Talk:Philosophy/Archive 21

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Archived

I've archived the remainder of this talkpage, to the two Jan2007 archives listed above, I wasn't sure whether to integrate those and the other two "additional archives" into the regular archives, and will leave that up to you. If anything in there was actually useful for the article, feel free to unarchive those threads. Ludvikus has been blocked for a week for unrelated abuse and personal attacks, and uninvolved admins are fully aware of the situations he has created, so everyone can ignore that whole issue, and get back to writing here and at the workshop. I'm retreating back to book design, where I initially met Ludvikus, so good luck with that whole describing the clarity of weltanschauung thing ;-p

Hope I helped, at least a little. And I still think this article needs more einstein, more meaning of life ;) --Quiddity 02:20, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Workshop

I am tentatively setting up a workshop page for those who wish to collaborate on this subject. Please read the intro, as this is not the same as a usual free-form talk page. Its purpose is to gain views on some questions that come to mind. Any editor here is invited to contribute - but please read the ground rules first! FT2 (Talk | email) 17:13, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Update on article status - Jan 30 2007

Without going into excessive details, the article's at the following position:

Basis of mediation: - Mediation is neutral. It tries to include all those involved and reconcile them. But ultimately, that doesn't mean ignoring problems if they persist. It means seeking the least contentious route to getting the article and its editorship back on form. This includes both addressing the editorial approach of the article, and also looking at where conduct needs to change.

Workshop - The workshop is going well; there's a clear sign that the workshop is achieving some insight and consensus and might help create a solid basis for the article.

Ludvikus -

  • It is clear (to me) that Ludvikus has at times acted in a way which is a pretty cold case for arbcom. This is not because any other editor says so, but my own assessment (as a neutral mediator familiar with arbcom) of his own editing. To balance that, there has been some incivility by others, and also some good points by Ludvikus. But the problems in his editing do gravely outnumber the good content (in my assessment), and as several pages note, nobody is indispensible if their conduct causes unremediable serious problems.
  • Ludvikus has agreed in email to some conditions which might allow the matter to avoid Arbcom if kept to. They don't need recapping here right now. He knows what he has agreed (in private) to keep to. If Ludvikus can act well, then we see how the article progresses without that particular aspect of difficulty.
  • If Ludvikus continues to act well, then I will hold off presenting his conduct to Arbcom, and will ask others to do likewise, and hope that a degree of sensible constructive dialog will emerge. Since there is already a very solid basis for such a case, this is a final attempt to include Ludvikus' input in the article dialog in a constructive manner. I hope it will be kept to. I'm also at peace with the outcome if it can't be.

Note that shoving the problem from one article to another isn't a "solution". So "act well" means, on all articles, not just this one. There are indications of concern elsewhere too; I'm not interested in resolving philosophy only to have to fix a dozen other articles with similar problems in future.

That's where it's at. Tomorrow I'll update the workshop, and see if we are getting close. Hopefully the progress there is encouraging and dispute free -- please do contribute to that page if you can. It will form the basis for an article approach, once hammered out, so all views and inputs are welcome. But keep it short and within the approach described, so it stays useful! FT2 (Talk | email) 02:44, 30 January 2007 (UTC)


Update Jan 30 2007: Article unblocked. See block log narrative:
23:07, January 30, 2007 FT2 unprotected Philosophy Trial unprotect: - per Ludvikus email agreement not to edit page contentiously or until long term stability reached. Warned carefully and seriously that breach beyond minor spelling etc will result in any/all of immediate block, or ArbCom referral, possib[le community ban or preliminary injunction.]
As stated above, so it is meant. Please take serious note of this narrative, since if it is invoked no further warning will be necessarily given. Also note that other matters agreed by email (good standard of editing, discuss rather than revert, no incivility/attacks) also stand.
To underline the seriousness of the situation, you need to know what the result will be for further breaches of these kinds. That's so that it is stated openly and fairly, "up front", and so others know you have been so advised in an open fair honest manner. This is the next stepfor breach, and you are hereby warned of it:
In the event of significant breach my (or uninvolved administrators') next action will probably be either 1/ referral to Arbcom and short term block until Arbcom have ruled on a preliminary injunction to minimize disruption, or more likely, 2/ community ban (or request on WP:ANI for a view on community ban) of indefinite duration, enforced by an indefinite block. FT2 (Talk | email) 23:41, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Ancient Greek philospher Pythagoras missing.

Truth is a lie, when it is missing a truth. (CS)

Only fitting...

"Ancient Greek philosophy may be divided into the pre-Socratic period, the Socratic period, and the post-Aristotelian period. The pre-Socratic period was characterized by metaphysical speculation, often preserved in the form of grand, sweeping statements, such as "All is fire", or "All changes". Important pre-Socratic philosophers include Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Democritus, Parmenides, and Heraclitus. "

You forgot to add the name of Pythagoras

--Caesar J. B. Squitti : Son of Maryann Rosso and Arthur Natale Squitti 16:44, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Combining Forms

I'd like to merge the first two paragraphs and drop one of the two versions of the Greek origins, i.e. either remove the reference to philosophía or to the combining forms:

...and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic). The word itself is derived from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophía, meaning love of wisdom).

I know there's some argument over the best way to describe the etymology but a one-sentence paragraph on it giving both the Greek word and its origin seems like overkill at this early stage in the article. Bringing in a linked "combining forms" here seems distracting to the point. A link to a "History of the Etymology of Philosophy" entry would be fine! JJL 14:24, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

I have no objection. The 'combining form' was an obsession of our dearly departed friend Ludvikus. I gave up reverting this for obvious reasons. Dbuckner 18:47, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
JJL, I adjusted the account of the etymology some weeks ago; then Ludvicus added "combining forms". I thought that the addition was harmless enough; so, given the Heraclitean volitility of things hereabouts, I left it alone. But I have now made a slight adjustment, in response to your concern. I urge you (and others) to consider leaving the etymology sentence as it now stands. Very many accounts of the etymology get it wrong, including many in earlier versions of this article. A single short sentence setting things right is not too much in an article of this length, detail, and importance. We could go further, but should not. An editor pointed out earlier that the word for philosopher precedes the word for philosophy, in Greek; that's true, but it complicates the matter needlessly, for a general article like this. – Noetica 00:24, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
It's an improvement, but I'd still prefer to see it shorter this early in the article. Perhaps it's a matter of looking at things from better informed eyes, but I wonder if showing philo- and sophia- isn't enough for the average reader to figure out where philosophy comes from, even if there are some slight technicalities that are omitted. JJL 03:52, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Quotations page

I have updated the quotations page with links to what Philosophy departments advertise their subject as being. Everyone welcome to work on this page, so long as verifiable source material. Dbuckner 18:46, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Usually the most junior facult member gets stuck with the job of writing the description of the subject in the college catelog. Not a good reference. Rick Norwood 13:37, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Summarize key points based upon descriptions by notable philosophers and reference texts, and contrast with summarized descriptions of college course/departmental promo texts, perhaps? Multiple viewpoints, those seem the main ones. FT2 (Talk | email) 14:33, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

My understanding is that Rick Norwood's point is not only false, but not allowed on Wikipedia, because it is original research. Perhaps I'm wrong about the latter, but the claim is certainly false. I have never known a job like this to go to the most junior person. Universities take attracting students extremely seriously, as do individual faculties; they do not toss the job to someone simply on the grounds of lack of seniority. On at least one occasion I have known the Head of Department write the introduction (John Cottingham at Reading). --Peter J King 16:04, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

This has been my experience too. To insure that students will be attracted to the dept., often a small committee or senior expert in the relevant subfield writes the catalog material and the head carefully edits it. This is a big responsibility for the head--the catalog is the arbiter of many disputes. JJL 16:46, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
But does it describe philosophy (neutrally and accurately), or does it market philosophy (massage or tilt the description a bit to gain interest)? I'd be amazed if a marketing summary - even one written by a philosopher and department head - was as certain to be neutral and accurate and likely to catch the important "twists" in definition, as an academic or formal summary. It'll be professional but verrrry slightly off, I'd suspect? My $0.02.... FT2 (Talk | email) 19:03, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
There's bound to be a bias of some sort. But the purpose of that set of quotations was to address the old question that has bogged down progress on this page for many years, namely whether philosophy uses the rational and critical approach. All professional philosophers would say it does, and these quotations suggest that does. Rick Norwood (who is not a professional philosopher) has argued that it does not. Hence his remark above. He (and also Lucas) has objected to the use of encyclopedias as in Definition of philosophy on the grounds that use of encyclopedias as sources is inadmissible in the Wiki. So we are stuck. Dbuckner 08:09, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Well...when we're speaking of divisions of philosophy, for example, I think that how it's taught in universities reflects how working professional philosophers divide up and classify their own areas of expertise. If a curriculum requires that students take one course from each of n major areas of philosophy, that makes a statement. JJL 19:24, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Sometimes the courses taught by a philosophy department are driven by the marketplace (to make philosophy look more useful outside its own). Examples: Biomedical ethics, business ethics. Zeusnoos 20:11, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
I think it is a wonderful resource that has been added. There is the little question of a 'caveat emptor' to be included in it though, about inflated promotional claims for philosophy, but most importantly that it might be giving (you guessed) an exclusively analytic or anglo-fied or, if not, a traditional version of what philosophy is. Somehow I think many of the graduating students might like to reword those claims that attracted them to philosophy, when they are on their way out the door. -- Lucas (Talk) 21:50, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
KD, who is not an analytic but a continental (his tutor was Edo Pivcevic, who was a Czech philosopher who taught in England) has argued many times that the continental approach is also rational and critical. You (and Norwood, and indeed Ludvikus)consistently seem to confuse 'rationalism' with the use, in philosophy, of a rational and critical approach. You do understand there is a difference, do you? Dbuckner 08:12, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Edo is Croatian, but otherwise I agree of course. I have offered before a handful of example of philosophers who have sought to reject rationality as such, but they are few and far between and the position is arguably not notable. KD Tries Again 16:13, 2 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Resubmitting suggestion for standards process

I'm resubmitting my suggestion for the inclusion of the Encylopedic Standards forum (ESF) as a way of mantaining quality editing, maintaining a pool of qualified expertise, resolving diputes, and maintaining a positive flow in the development of this article, and the philosophy portal overall:

The mission of ESF is to build a vibrant community with a pool of expertise that will match any organization, corporate or university. We envision developing or refining:

1. A set of goals for articles.

2. A system to indicate articles or article versions that have attained those goals.

3. A quality-based method of resolving editorial disputes.

Richiar 21:59, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

I strongly agree with this, but one thing: the page is obsessive about citation, without mentioning style. In my experience there is a very strong correlation between enthusiastic but misinformed editing, and bad writing. The two just seem to go together. Given that, why not try to form some group or other who will look at persistent 'stylistic' offenders and pass judgment. This approach would have a number of advantages, namely

1. There is a large vested interest in the Wiki copywriting community, who like to do this sort of stuff.

2. It gets over the perception that only philosophers can edit philosophy articles. If you look at my criticism of the Analytic philosophy page (see talk) you notice most of the criticisms are stylistic.

3. It also gets over the 'credentialist' objection. Judging articles by how well they are written is much more inclusive than the credentials of the person who wrote them. Dbuckner 08:39, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

    • I am taking your comments to heart. I have opened a workspace on my userpage to work on these issues. I don't forsee it being easy, but-I do this sort of thing for a living. It will take form over time. I will make postings on the forum, and notices here if I have anything that may be useful. I will also make note on your talk page if I think I have anything of substance. Philosophy is at the very heart of what I do. Richiar 05:54, 3 February 2007 (UTC) (And welcome back). :)

From the department of the bleeding obvious:

Note to self: we need a section on skepticism under epistemology/metaphysics. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 15:15, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Done (well, at least started). { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 17:18, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Two long rants

I left a rant on the Analytic philosophy talk page. A little critical, but there is a lot that could easily be done to make it better. Also see the Continental philosophy talk page. I'm still unclear about the debate between Lucas and the person with a number. What is it about? Dbuckner 08:26, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Skepticism

Well done for someone (Ben) actually writing something (scepticism section) for once. Only a nitpick: this section is quite long and is only a part of what scepticism is. Its relation to rationalist and empiricist philosophy should also be included, and there is no mention of Hume. Given we are trying to cut down this article and make it more of a summary, wouldn't it make more sense to move part of this to the main Skepticism article, which is not very good, and think about a shorter approach? Just a suggestion. Similarly for Analytic and Continental. We should not lose sight of the fact that whatever this article says about any of these, in summary, should broadly agree with what the introduction to the sub-article says.

Another point, the section on Rationalist philosophy wrongly begins with Descartes. But of course it began long before that. Dbuckner 08:31, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

PS And how do we actually spell 'scepticism'. Dbuckner 08:31, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

PPS Just noticed the page Philosophical skepticism which is not bad, though pretty long-winded. Dbuckner 08:34, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

You're right of course. I started it "blind", so to speak, just dived right in. Dismayed: I only got to establish a third of Empiricus's modes of skepticism. I also wanted to get into contemporary forms, but by that time I had figured out that I was reaching the limits. I was actually thinking of Hume in writing that, in the sense that he admits the existence of a kind of light skepticism (which is more in tune with everyday use of the term). I'll truncate and merge, etc.
Although the rationalism section is wildly incomplete (i.e., where's Zeno?) it doesn't appear to say that Descartes invented rationalism, because it says that he invented a species of rationalism, implying there are others. But of course it's just dangling there without any other relevant historical injections that would lead the reader down the right path.
I spell "skepticism" with a k for reasons that are rational but idiosyncratic. (When at all possible, I like my letters to match particular sounds, and sneer at phonetic opacity. I would rename the Thames to "Temmes" if I had the power. Lucky for England that I don't.) I noticed, though, that the text I was writing from spelt it with a "c", so I was obliged to copy that spelling for the purposes of the quote. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 16:26, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, the spelling thing was my joke. Americans spell it with a 'k', we Brits, with a 'c'. Dbuckner 17:09, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
I have no sense of humour. I do have a sense of humor, though. One day I'll figure out how that works.
I've "fixed" skepticism and rationalism, but I'm positive that Zeno is not the first/best example of a rationalist. Going to eat now, see if I can fix it better when I get back. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 18:31, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

The additions to the article in the last two days

There has been a large amount of editing in last few days, mostly by Ben Nelson (Lucidish) it seems. I have purposely left off editing this as there was a process (managed by FT2) which was being followed by everyone else.

I'll make some comments shortly after reading more carefully, but, on the whole, they read like the usual personal essays that have so dogged this page. Sorry Ben. Dbuckner 19:24, 2 February 2007 (UTC)


There is no universal agreement about which subjects are to be included among the main branches of philosophy. This is primarily because the science has changed over the millenia, as when astrology was removed from the study of astronomy, which was intimately connected with metaphysics and epistemology. In traditional Western philosophy the disagreements are primarily between the Empiricists, and the Rationalists. There is wide agreement that philosophy includes the disciplines of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political science, and aesthetics, in that order.


The very open-minded nature of philosophy makes many people skeptical when it comes to limiting the concept of philosophy to something tangible. Accordingly, metaphilosophical relativists may claim that any statement can be counted as a philosophical statement, as there is no objective way to disqualify it of being so. Some relativists adopt a sociological stance, insisting that any given truth is merely a reflection of the way that a person is socially embedded in a certain culture. To put it in Hegel's terms, "Philosophy is that which grasps its own era in thought." [1]


Elements of the analytic tradition (though not exclusively that tradition) have understood philosophical endeavor to be based around solving puzzles by the use of reasoning. This conception of philosophy is espoused most vividly by the early Wittgenstein, who explained that philosophy is the activity of clarifying fuzzy thoughts. [2] Similar remarks may be found in Schopenhauer, who explains: "To repeat abstractly, universally, and distinctly in concepts the whole inner nature of the world, and thus to deposit it as a reflected image in permanent concepts always ready for the faculty of reason, this and nothing else is philosophy.[3] This sentiment can sometimes be wryly inverted to claim that the central activity of the philosopher is to create their own puzzles.


Many views have tried to deflate what goes on in philosophy at large. The logical positivists denied the soundness of metaphysics and traditional philosophy, and affirmed that statements about metaphysics, religion and ethics are devoid of cognitive meaning and thus nothing but expression of feelings or desires. Another example is that of Nietzsche, who argued that philosophers "are not honest enough in their work, although they make a lot of virtuous noise when the problem of truthfulness is touched even remotely. They all pose as if they had discovered and reached their real opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic...; while at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed a kind of “inspiration”—most often a desire of the heart that has been filtered and made abstract—that they defend with reasons they have sought after the fact. [4] Others, like Francis Bacon, have argued that philosophy contributes nothing, but is merely an echo of nature. [5]


  1. ^ Hegel, G.W.F. Elements of the Philosophy of Rights. Cambridge University Press. 1991 (1821).
  2. ^ Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Routledge. 2001. (4.112)
  3. ^ Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World as Will and Representation. 1969. (Vol. I, §68)
  4. ^ Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil. (Part One: On the Prejudices of Philosophers, §5)
  5. ^ Bacon, Francis. The Enlargement of Science. (1. 2, ch. 3)

I hope that my edits have been an improvement of the page on the whole, but if I got it wrong, that's fine, we can change it around. I can see how you'd make the OR claim though: there's no solid reason to group together the "social embeddedness" sorts of philosopher with the relativists. The conclusion re: deflation and the positivists may come off a bit harsh (they never denied that they were doing philosophy), but it's also clear that they were out to burn the sophistry that Hume had directed us to. Anyway, the edits were a quick-and-dirty effort to make things hang together done in between shifts, and improvement is welcome.
Still. The first selection here is not mine (IIRC), or at least the phrasing is someone else's doing. i.e., I didn't add anything about Rationalism v. Empiricism in the intro.
The other three are attempts to put the material from the quotations page into prose form, and to merge unnecessary sections together. In the Wittgenstein case I tried to retain the manner of phrasing that the original philosophers used. Compare:
  • "the early Wittgenstein... explained that philosophy is the activity of clarifying fuzzy thoughts" (mine);
  • "The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a theory but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. The result of philosophy is not a number of ‘philosophical propositions’, but to make propositions clear. Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred." (Wittgenstein)
And the Schopenhauer quote is direct, no paraphrasing.
So in both cases I'd have to hear why and how these are misrepresentations. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 20:38, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
I mean the sentence that follows the Schopenhauer: "This sentiment can sometimes be wryly inverted to claim that the central activity of the philosopher is to create their own puzzles." How so? Which philosopher claimed this? Dbuckner 21:09, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I should have linked that to the Russell quote (that's what it was meant to be referring to). { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 21:42, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
You say "Elements of the analytic tradition (though not exclusively that tradition) have understood philosophical endeavor to be based around solving puzzles by the use of reasoning." But Wittgenstein does not mention reasoning, but analysis and clarification. And he does not talk about 'solving puzzles'. Indeed, he says later that 'the riddle does not exist'. I.e. in the case of philosophy there is only the appearance of a puzzle or riddle, caused by cloudy and indistinct thoughts. Thus, the philosopher does not solve puzzles by reason, but tackles what appear like puzzles (but aren't) by clarifying the way they are expressed. Dbuckner 21:09, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
My source for that one (though I failed to cite it) was Wittgenstein's Poker by David Edmonds and John Eidinow. "What is clear is that there were vehement exchanges between Popper and Wittgenstein over the fundamental nature of philosophy -- whether there were indeed philosophical problems (Popper) or merely puzzles (Wittgenstein)." { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 21:42, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Then don't make claims without explicitly linking to quotes. Also, remember context. The distinction between 'problems' on the one hand and 'puzzles' or 'muddles' as analytics tend call them, is between genuine difficulties, and stuff that's just puzzling, or gets people confused, but isn't problematic really, if you clarify things in the right way. OK? Dbuckner 07:38, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Of course. Nobody is exempt from the burden of proof. But when I wrote the above, it was during the hour or two that I had free between shifts. Though that doesn't excuse the lack of citations, it should at least explain why it isn't always pragmatically feasible for me to give them immediately. (Maybe it would help if we had a standing policy of: a) apply [citation needed] to a statement, and b) if it is not cited within a week, remove the statement.){ Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 15:19, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Deletions

I have deleted the paragraph in 'Identity of Philosophy' which begins 'Elements of the analytic tradition ...'. It is poorly written and is a misreading of Tractatus 4.111. The Schopenhauer remarks are pure OR. Dbuckner 19:40, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

And I have made another reversion here, to changes made by a new user User talk:,Pythagorus8. This does not bode well. Dbuckner 19:59, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Puzzling too are blocks of text pasted above. Why was only this paragraph deleted. Better to fix the misinterpretation of Wittgenstein. However, giving only one view of philosophy as the "solving of problems" is inconsistent with our intro, which ultimately says philosophy is all about "solving problems". The deletion of this should be, however, from the intro and not from here, since here it has some context. -- Lucas (Talk) 21:38, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Heh. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 17:40, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Request to add

Hello I am the user who added the stuff you deleted. I have re-edited it to:

Another way of organizing all of Western philosophy is into two major 'lineages' or traditions. One is associated with Plato and the other with Aristotle (and the Sophists). The Platonic tradition sees man as a rational being with limitless intellectual potential. Truth-to Plato-is of immaterial forms. The tradition of Aristotle views man as an animal of his senses. Truth is therefore only that of physical material objects. The Platonic tradition includes Philo of Alexandria, Nicolas of Cusa, Johannes Kepler, Gottfried Leibniz, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Bernhard Riemann, Georg Cantor and many of the founding fathers of the American Revolution. The tradition of Aristotle includes Descartes, Isaac Newton and the Logical Positivists, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, the Empiricists, the Existentialists, Bertrand Russell and his protege Noam Chomsky.

-unquote. I think it is a valid historical record. Please discuss why it should not be included. I have mentioned philosphers who have specifically associated themselves with the philosopher in their writings or by leading scholars.

thanks, Pythagorus8 20:34, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

In answer to your question, it is not very well written, and it smells like original research. See WP:OR. Dbuckner 20:59, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Hello Pythagorus8 -- It is clear that you are editing in good faith, but you are wrong about this paragraph. What you have written is original research -- in fact, very controversial original research -- and violates Wikipedia's NOR policy. Actually, it is probably more accurate to say (although this is very controversial too) that Plato and Aristotle were both rationalists, although each had his own way of understanding and expounding reason. Aristotle did not say were are "an animal of the senses"; he said we are rational animals and, furthermore, that reason (not the animalistic side of our natures) constitutes our essence. As for your long lists of supposed members of each tradition, they are hopelessly argumentative. These are very disparate thinkers, removed by millennia from the ancient Greeks and they have as many points of contrast (with one another and with the ancients) as of resemblance. I appreciate your enthusiasm for the subject matter, but you honestly are getting carried away. Respectfully -- WikiPedant 21:04, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for that comment. Yes, that is also correct. Plato represents a certain kind of rationalism, Aristotle of another. And of course, he did not say we are "an animal of the senses". Dbuckner 21:13, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

OK, I accept 'poorly written' and will try to re-write something and present it here first for peer approval. I do feel it's important to mention in this article that Plato and Aristotle are two examples of the most neat divisions you can divide philosophy into. I feel the difference is mirrored in Taoism (Aristotle) vs. Confucianism (Plato). The fact that you can align most famous philosophers with one or the other proves my point. It is definitely not a perfect fit. I don't think you can say that Aristotle is not empirical in his view of man as a 'rational' animal in contrast to Plato's immaterial rationalism. To Aristotle, man was still a slave to material rationality of his sense-perception. Pythagorus8 21:08, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes, please do everything via the Talk page. The difference between Plato and Aristotle is generally accepted to be between strong realism (Plato) and moderate realism (Aristotle). If you are going to make any analogies with Taoism &c, these have to be very carefully researched and cited. Original research is strictly prohibited in Wikipedia. ThanksDbuckner 21:11, 2 February 2007 (UTC)


Is it "original research" if it's a taken directly from their original works. For examle, when Aristotle says "Man is by nature a political animal." and karl Marx, Heidegger, Hobbes and others say basically the same thing, is it original research to say they shared views when it is my own observation backed up by original sources?

Pythagorus8 21:22, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it is (sadly). But surely all those writers do all spend a great deal of time talking about how man is political in some sense. But for Marx, human nature is malleable. For Hobbes, humanity is less political than other animals, because they get along so terribly, while bees and the like seem to hang out more or less amicably. These are not exactly obvious points, so you can't be faulted for not knowing them. But the fact that they can be made -- and, in fact, are stressed in introductory courses to political philosophy -- shows that what appears obvious to us on first blush, may be in dire need of verification from secondary sources. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 00:56, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Leviathan, Chapter 17. Paragraph begins: "It is true, that certain living creatures..." { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 01:12, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Also in reference to the difference between Aristotle and Plato, I think a more significant difference is the idea of pre-natal truth (Phaedo/remembering) of Plato versus the idea of Aristotle that the soul is born a clean slate. When Leibniz argued his "pursuit of happiness (the joy of intellectual discovery/wisdom)" against John Locke's "pursuit of property" Leibniz specifically said that his view was aligned with Plato's and Locke's view was aligned with Aristotle. This naturally leads to the idea i was trying to put forth: that we can remember the world with our minds according to Plato, but need sensory imprinting from the world. In other words, to Aristotle we are just glorified animals. To Plato, we are imoortal souls with infinite potential. The philosophers I associated with Plato shared this view of man whereas the philosophers I associated with Aristotle saw man as an animal (Hobbes, Kant, Bertrand Russell et al.).

Pythagorus8 21:36, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Anyone can pick out a pattern. However, the job is to verify that the pattern isn't just some fleeting impression. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 00:58, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

I could easily verify it on authority (show many 'scholarly' journals that assert this), but I am not a fan of authority as the source of truth. The difference that I have pointed out is backed up by Leibniz. What greater scholar could you ask for? The real question is what is your opinion on the greatest difference between the two? I'm sure you will personally agree with me? Pythagorus8 01:32, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

If you are not a great fan of authority, please give up editing here. See WP:OR, and read carefully. See in particular the bit about synthesis: "Editors often make the mistake of thinking that if A is published by a reliable source, and B is published by a reliable source, then A and B can be joined together in an article in order to advance position C. However, this would be an example of a new synthesis of published material serving to advance a position, and as such it would constitute original research". That is why secondary sources (scholars of Leibniz, e.g., are generally preferred). Dbuckner 07:34, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
So give a precise quote from Leibniz on the subject, and we'll see if it says anything that can salvaged for the article. It doesn't matter whether you're a fan of epistemic authority or not. Nobody is exempt from the burden of proof. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 02:20, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Often these questions used to be covered under rubrics like realism, indirect realism, empicism, etc. We are all familiar with the famous painting School of Athens with one pointnig up the other down.

Primary and Secondary philosophical sources

Leibniz is on wiki a secondary source. I think the sourcing is best discussed by referring to canonical and academic philosophers. We have not concluded here nor does wiki policy conclude, which between canonical or academic sources are to be preferred. -- Lucas (Talk) 17:29, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
No Lucas, you are wrong. See my comments (and those of others) on the continental philosophy talk page. Original works by great philosophers are primary sources. Wiki prefers secondary sources, to avoid editors passing off original research by interpretation and synthesis. You persist in abusing Wiki policy in order to push you personal and highly idiosyncratic views of philosophy all over the shop. Please stop it! Dbuckner 18:58, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
This declaration is made by as if it had something definite about it, however, it is just an opinion. What we must first clarify is how to discuss this. I suggest we talk of canonical and academic philosophers. The reason for this is that wiki OR does not use primary and secondary sources in the usual academic way, but in a legal/journalistic sense. Dbuckner above suggested in his argument that a journalistic primary source is analagous to the an academic source. The only analogy however, is insofar as one writes about the other, there is no analogy with regard to the real issue, reliability.
Wiki considers primary sources as inherently unreliable, eg, a particular fireman's experience of 9/11. Secondary sources (eg, an historian's view) are instead considered more reliable. For philosophy the ultimate reliable source as to a major philosopher's views is the canonical philosopher herself. However, in drawing more global conclusions not made by that philosopher (eg, synthising her historical connections with others of her time etc.) an academic source is required. The problem is that a canonical philosopher is usually also an academic one. I think most would rate an opinion on Spinoza given by Kant much higher than one given by an unknown academic whose opinion probably died with him. In the end I think it requires judgement on a case by case basis, sometimes the canonical, sometimes the academic.
Tertiary sources, dictionaries etc., are also useful, but they lack critical appeal, since they are usually not "peer reviewed," ie, they are not assessed openly by other philosophers. -- Lucas (Talk) 00:48, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
Like the man says, your opinion here is not correct. There are clearly a number of good editors who are frustrated with you illiterate, unsourced and highly idiosyncratic edits. If you persist in this, I am going to escalate the matter. This is a warning. Dbuckner 09:24, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
I'll just ignore this since you are obviously on one of your little power trips and make no substantive comment -- Lucas (Talk) 10:17, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
Again, User:Lucaas, your opinion here is just not correct. Because WP:NOR is such a fundamental policy, and because your editing shows that you don't understand it (though I and several other users have now tried to point this out to you), I'd like to ask you, politely, to read the policy again and reflect more carefully on why it exists. This is not meant as an attack, but an observation about a repeated pattern in your edits -- I've seen many cases now where you've introduced a 100% original synthetic interpretation or historical explanation, and then tried to defend it by either (a) derailing the discussion into interpretive minutiae and simple airing of opinions or (b) inventing new terminology and wildly misinterpreting specific passages of policy (often the examples rather than the rules themselves) to justify your insertion of your own views. (The second is what you've done above by inventing a new and idiosyncratic jargon about "canonical" and "academic" sources when you've been presented several times in the last day with a completely simple distinction between primary sources -- philosophical texts -- and secondary sources like textbooks and histories of philosophy.) This is not how Wikipedia works. Since Wikipedia is primarily a project to create an encyclopedia, it is most important that we avoid any original interpretation and synthesis of the material and stick to presenting familiar, well-established accounts (note that this means more than just relying on published sources, since it's easy to base a novel interpretation or synthesis on existing texts). I don't mean this as hostile in any way, and I won't use the word "troll" because it appears your intentions are good, but I have to say that I (and apparently several other contributors) am becoming increasingly dubious about whether your edits have been constructive or helpful at all. Again, I'd like to ask that you re-read the original research policy carefully, and consider why your contributions have seemed like original research to many Wikipedians. -- Rbellin|Talk 02:09, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

Again this comment is largely superfluous and sadly emotive. Derailed into "Interpretative minutia", did you not know analytic is concerned with the details. You comment shows how unconcerned you are with philosophy and really want to engage in some kind of personal attack. The Wiki OR is quite clear about what primary sources are and I've no idea why you perist in misreading it. You make again this strange comment aboout a history of original synthesis, point out one example in these discussions of this. The terms canonical and academic are redily available and serve better than the confused primary and secondary (since on wiki they are journalistic not academic terms) You now introduce your own words for this, "philosophical texts" and "textbooks and histories of philosophy". Though this is the only comment you really make in the above I do not think it deserves further discussion as it is obviousl the most confused of the three. I will not further raise this matter of you peristant attempt to derail discussion of wiki article with personal and unsubstatiated attacks, but consider yourself warned. There is a place for your irrelevant vitriol, the garbage can! -- Lucas (Talk) 10:17, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

If you are confused about the idea of 'synthesis', please read WP:OR. Have you looked at this at all? The policy forbids any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that appears to advance a position — or which, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation." Just search on the word 'synthesis'. See e.g. See 'Synthesis of published material serving to advance a position', which says "Editors often make the mistake of thinking that if A is published by a reliable source, and B is published by a reliable source, then A and B can be joined together in an article in order to advance position C. However, this would be an example of a new synthesis of published material serving to advance a position, and as such it would constitute original research.[2] "A and B, therefore C" is acceptable only if a reliable source has published this argument in relation to the topic of the article."
Jimmy Wales says: "The phrase 'original research' originated primarily as a practical means to deal with physics cranks, of which of course there are a number on the Web. The basic concept is as follows: It can be quite difficult for us to make any valid judgment as to whether a particular thing is true or not. It isn't appropriate for us to try to determine whether someone's novel theory of physics is valid; we aren't really equipped to do that. But what we can do is check whether or not it actually has been published in reputable journals or by reputable publishers. So it's quite convenient to avoid judging the credibility of things by simply sticking to things that have been judged credible by people much better equipped to decide."
WP:OR says that original research "introduces an analysis or synthesis of established facts, ideas, opinions, or arguments in a way that builds a particular case favored by the editor, without attributing that analysis or synthesis to a reputable source".
Physicist cranks, philosophy cranks ... Dbuckner 16:53, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
Lucaas, Dbuckner, please take care to avoid incivility. I can see what was written earlier, but I'd ask you both to be careful in what you say (and say it calmly and in good faith) as two collaborators on the same project. Calling people "cranks" (even if they are) or labelling their concerns "irrelevant vitriol" fit for "the garbage can" (even if it were) is not really useful here, it just makes it more intransigent and that helps nobody. The question is whether a particular person's contributions are (or are not) sourced, verifiable or OR, and that needs no emotional personal attacks or personal defence to ascertain. We've had enough of that on this page. I'd suspect consensus would prefer the page to focus on the content and representation issues, the article, and not the editors. Thanks. FT2 (Talk | email) 17:14, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
Ok well, I provisionally agree not to characterise Dbuckner's work on wikipedia as "irrelevant vitriol". But believe me, I have attempted to stay away from uncivility. In my opinion, I was not the first to begin this name-calling, -- Lucas (Talk) 19:48, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

To FT2

FT2: Let me just quote something that Mel Etitis quoted the other day:

There are many ways to explain this problem, and I will start with just one. Far too much credence and respect accorded to people who in other Internet contexts would be labelled "trolls." There is a certain mindset associated with unmoderated Usenet groups and mailing lists that infects the collectively-managed Wikipedia project: if you react strongly to trolling, that reflects poorly on you, not (necessarily) on the troll. If you attempt to take trolls to task or demand that something be done about constant disruption by trollish behavior, the other listmembers will cry "censorship," attack you, and even come to the defense of the troll. This drama has played out thousands of times over the years on unmoderated Internet groups, and since about the fall of 2001 on the unmoderated Wikipedia.

FT2, that is exactly what you are doing. I am reacting badly to trolling, and you sadly are infected by that mindset: that is reflecting poorly on me, not on the TROLL. Remember what happened last month? I warned you very early on that the behaviour of Ludvikus was going to lead to disaster.

After a few attempts, you replied as follows. "I don't have a content stance, at present. I'm here to watch the conduct and editorship.", "I'm not convinced that all editors are furthering that objective as they might" blah blah. Then we had this rather strange 'workshop' in which the views of professional philosophers were mixed in with the views of two professional trolls, as though you could have a vote on it. Then after some pressure from me you recognised the problem for what it was. It took another administrator (Gwernol) to step in and block the offender (but only for a week). What is up with this place? How dare you blame me for 'incivility'.

It is quite obvious the guy is a complete Troll. Just look through the edits. For goodness sake. Dbuckner 17:45, 4 February 2007 (UTC)


Thanks for the honesty of the questions. I will have a go at explaining. It may take a few paragraphs to do so.
Mediation is a far less "confrontational" option than seeking arbitration or performing intervention (which I've also done at times). It starts from a standpoint that each party is trying to contribute something (even if misguidedly), and to listen a while to try and extract the valuable views (if any) from the emotion, or policy breaches. Its a consequence of Wikipedia not being a hierachy or formal disciplinary body, but a volunteer structure -- consensus is encouraged where possible, and a large number of people, when they are asked without anger for their positive concerns and viewpoints, do find themselves able to learn to produce and discuss them. The ideal is that everyone learns.
Obviously this isn't always achieved. Still calmness in debate usually highlights bad actors, and makes it much easier to show good cause for their removal. Wikipedia policy is people are not removed lightly. To me, it is not "obvious" that Lucaas is a "troll", mostly since I've been working on one facet of the dispute at a time to try and help it calm down. The evidence I would look at is how he contributes, when the heat is taken out of the talk page and others revert to calm and reasoned points made. Which I can't do nearly as easily if there is a multi-way bad-faith argument going on. It's for that reason that I ask for civility and calm. Their lack helps nobody, and asking that everyone (whether in the right or wrong) act that way is reasonable and expected. Specifically, I have never found a need to call anyone a "troll", or a "crank", to deal with them, and I've had serious trolling to deal with myself. It's just not needed. One just evidences the pattern of bad behavior if it exists, and is honest about the concerns, exactly as you have done at times.
Let me try to clarify a bit on consensus (sorry if this is obvious stuff, it's not intended to be more than a recap). To write an article is not the same as writing an editorial or a book introduction. We assume that there are multiple perspectives, and that experts and lay-people alike may have knowledge or information that is verifiable, credible and worth including. So we listen to all. That is not the same as accepting all. But yes, we do listen to all, both professionals and others. If people are calm and civilised, views will be added from all perspectives, as they were. This is not for "voting" upon (Facts aren't decided by "vote"); it's to get a clear perspective what range of views get expressed, so we can better see what is obvious "consensus", what would need citing or verification to be accepted, and what misunderstandings might exist that will help us write a better article as we clarify them. In that sense all views are valuable, they're all input to help us write a better article. Provided that they are civil and reasoned (and if they aren't that will be self-evident and not a problem). As you saw on the workshop, some sections were near unanimous agreement, some had important caveats and concerns expressed, whilst the asking of other questions (even misguided ones) led to clarity and agreements that otherwise might not have been reached. It's a collaborative rather than singular approach, and it works.
When the article becomes a dispute, the role of mediation is not powerless. Those who cannot collaborate, rapidly become removed. You have seen this process occur. Ultimately admins will become involved, either to intervene or to explore the logjam (mediation). If a person is trolling, then their comments on a calm talk page will be the sole incivility, the sole disruption, the sole speaker who must argue from rhetoric ... it gets pretty obvious rather quickly, and thus trolls don't usually survive long in a mediation if others keep within policy.
Speaking personally, I know disputes are a stressful situation. One of the articles I was involved in was trolled for about a year - and badly. As a result, when I mediate, I tend to not let bad situations endure for long. Like I mentioned earlier, it will be cleaned up fairly soon. Neutrality does not equal naivety or indifference to goals; it's intensely goal focussed. The goal of mediation - so to speak - being to see who (given a level calm and independently mediated playing field and guidance) cannot in a couple of weeks work collaboratively within policy.
But in the meantime can I hope for your patience and a bit of leeway so that it stands a chance, and doesn't degrade into unhelpful squabbling? Just that you don't inadvertantly add incivility or ad hominems out of frustration, if possible. The situation'll resolve pretty soon, and whether Lucaas is a bona fide editor or not (as your concern stands), he will have his chance to show it without such comments. It'd help.
Last, if you have still got serious questions or concerns, or want to know more (and this goes for anyone) please email me. FT2 (Talk | email) 19:19, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry this is complete rubbish. If you had bothered to follow the trail carefully, or ask some trusted people in the dispute (you can spot these in a few seconds), you would have seen the problem. As you say, Wiki policy is that people are not removed lightly. So much the worse for that policy. The most recent problem was not to do with this page. I had a concern that some good editors (on the Continental philosophy and Heidegger articles) were being put off by this nonsense. Your own policy and handling of these issues, as far as I can see, is to ignore the facts and focus on 'behaviours' or whatever. Whereas for me, all that counts is the quality of the editing, and sourcing of material by WP:OR. I come back to Wiki from time to time, every time hoping for a change, and I see it will never change. Sorry FT2, it is people like you who are the main problem with this place. It had to be said. 'The rule of all is not good. Let there one ruler be'. Sadly, there is truth in that. Dbuckner 06:55, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
PS This comment (by a good editor who has now stopped work on an interesting article) says it all. FT2: it is not Lucas' fault (he cannot help his poor command of English, his inability to follow elementary rules, and his confrontational character). It is your fault. I am blaming you. Sorry to have to say this so bluntly. Dbuckner 07:01, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
"experts and lay-people alike may have knowledge or information that is verifiable, credible and worth including" - personally I am struggling with this a little, and it may simply mean that Wikipedia is not for me. Lay-people with little or no real philosophical education rarely have views which are worth including, however strongly and repeatedly they are expressed. KD Tries Again 16:08, 5 February 2007 (UTC)KD
There is a gradation between a lay person and an expert. Someone with good general knowledge of the subject but who is not an expert can help rein in the experts who delve too deeply or use jargon that is too technical. If a lay person can't comprehend the result, that result is of little use--after all, experts could read the original sources for this type of info. Someone with a strong knowledge of history could help place parts of this article in context. Experts write secondary sources, but editors can craft a generic tertiary source from that, to be checked for correctness by an expert. This page has suffered mostly from over-zealous editors but it has also suffered, to a lesser extent, from an over-emphasis on expertise before a structure has been laid out for making a useful entry--too many chefs. Who is the audience? In any event, "anyone can edit" seems to be the idea of WP. It isn't meant to be compelling reading.
But I surely share the implicit concern that the unknowledgeable/uncollegial are driving away the posters with the most to contribute. JJL 17:07, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
It is a fact of life that wiki is open. There are hundreds of scholarly journals and traditional publishers who would only be too glad to publish expert opinion. So what happens here is really an experiment. Can experts work with non-experts? I think many of the problems come not from editing articles or lack of expertise, but from unsourced claims by certain users to be more expert or scholarly. We have no idea of what "secondary opinion" is about such editor's current scholarly situation, and we cannot just believe self-promotional claims, for all we know, they could be writting from an asylum (are they allowed internet there?).
Maybe too we could extend our sourcing policy to talk pages, claims such as, on wiki the "unknowledgeable are driving away the knowledgeble," are mere hearsay. I also find the comment: "Lay-people with little or no real philosophical education rarely have views which are worth including" very un-wiki. In any case we do not license their "views", we license only those that are based on verifiable sources. -- Lucas (Talk) 02:55, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

"RfC" on Lucas

I am gathering evidence against Lucas, who is proving a 'difficult editor' for a number of us. I have started a page here. This includes most of his recent edits, but nothing on his articles that sadly ended up as cases for deletion. Anyone with suitable diffs, please put them there, or on my talk page. Let's clear up this town once and for all. Dbuckner 12:43, 4 February 2007 (UTC)


What Dbuckner is attempting to do is to take some rather involved discussions and arguments between two people. Cut out completely one-side's comments, replies, rebuttals and edits, and present only this one-half as "evidence". Under what kind of rule does this constitute "evidence"? When I say "rule" I mean with what historical or contemporary form of government would you associate this type of "evidence" gathering? Democracy? Autocracy? Totalitarian? Stalinist? Please do not assume this "rfc" has anything to do with "evidence" or justice. And do not be fooled by the officious language. You abuse these words. -- Lucas (Talk) 20:03, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

I have always found Lucas very easy to work with. Rick Norwood 19:20, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

That's no surprise. Dbuckner 19:32, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

The issue of sources

It seems I've opened a can of worms with this disucssion of primary, secondary and tertiary sources. I had noticed before that it came up a few time with regard to whether encylopedias were good sources complared to other texts, journals, etc. But it was never clarified. Now I'm not sure if I'm the one to try and coordinate discussion of this as my views seem to be quite different to two others on here who have expressed views on the matter. Nor do I know if it is a matter best left with the tacit undestanding we all have that published sources are better than none at all.

In any case let us wind-back a little and try to say something basic about it that is undisputable. The first place to look as far as I know to find wiki policy on the matter is WP:OR which is the same page as, WP:NOR. But these policies do not seem to apply directly to philosophy and we need an analogy to see how they apply. The main aspect of WP:OR concerns reliability of sources.

The main issue seems to be in trying to give priority to one set of sources over another. In order to categorise which sources have priority in philosophy one must give a definition of what constitutes a priority source and what constitutes lesser valued (note, was called "deprecated") sources.


Summary of views so far:

Dbucker:

Priority sources: ones that are not "works by great philosophers"

Lesser sources: "works by great philosophers"

Rbellin:

Priority sources: textbooks and histories of philosophy

Lesser sources: philosophical texts

FT2:

Priority sources: "sourced, verifiable"

Lesser sources: non-sourced comments.


I included FT2's descriptions even though it seems that he might refuse making a global distinction. This is perhaps closest to my own view: a published source is generally better than none. We had been trying to follow wiki policy and give priority to some sources over others, but I think it is largely a matter of judgement and skill. Are there any other proposals on this issue? Where do "tertiary" sources fit in, wiki OR does not mention much about them. -- Lucas (Talk) 21:44, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

I believe the above characterizations are offside. Dean, from what I understand, holds something like what you attribute to Rbellin. And no sources are "deprecated", there are simply those sources (the primaries) that must be dealt with carefully, and those (certain secondaries and tertiaries) which are more indicative of consensus views. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 02:12, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
offside perhaps but they are open to correction. I agree with what you say about deprecated. But on the WP:OR what they call "primary" sources they do depreciated and indicate that they should be used only on the "rare occasions" where there are not secondary ones. In any case this does not apply so fully to these philosophic sources, so I'll change word "deprecated" in the above. But why do you characterise "Dean"'s view, which view is it that you yourself hold? I mean, I know you think primary are "handle with care" and that you hold the opinion that secondary are "more consensual," but what texts are primary sources and and which are secondary sources, for you. -- Lucas (Talk) 04:39, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
First I should say that I understand exactly where you're coming from, because you're coming from where I am. I expressed the same exasperation but a year and a month ago. To quote from 14 January 2006: "Never before have I had the misfortune to be in an encounter where the words of encyclopediae are prized over and above those of actual, respectable researchers within a field. Can you see how frustrating, and outright anti-intellectual, that may seem?"
It may surprise you to learn that I would still endorse that sentiment, so long as it is hedged properly. What was implicitly at issue in my position was whether or not a significant minority opinion exists on some issue; and that depends upon the contemporaneousness of the source, and their noteability (both Wikipedian demands). The issue at that time was what I called "metaphilosophical naturalism", and the source I had in mind was Gilbert Harman, who is both contemporary and world-renouned. My logic was like this. Let it be given that a famous source (H) holds a certain view (p), and this view is contested by some (R) who may be found in prominent tertiary sources. Argument: it doesn't matter where (H) held the view, so long as it was articulated in a public forum. But the key point is that this does not prove a consensus view on the side of the authority (H); rather, it provides sufficiently noteworthy evidence against the notion that (R) reflects a genuine consensus. That means only that this should be taken as sufficient evidence that a noteworthy dispute is going on, protected by Wikipedia's NPOV clause.
There are, of course, issues of craftsmanship and Wikipolicy. Perhaps the above would not be sufficient for allowing the views of (H) into the introductory paragraph, but would be sufficient for allowing them in the article. This is because Wikipedia prizes, not just verifiability, but also consensus. And consensus means, prize the secondaries and tertiaries a little bit higher than the primaries. (This fact that this part of the paradigm is less-well-known will create all kinds of heartache. IE: I've seen it alleged that Wikipedia is anarchistic, but this is a deep misunderstanding: in fact, it is pseudo-anarchistic in process, but conservative-populist in policy.) But that should not be taken to mean that primaries are ignored. They simply must be treated carefully.
This would all seem terribly unjust if secondaries/teritaries truly were all written by persons with heads up their proverbial butts. But that's not necessarily true: it took me no time at all to find the Blackburn quote (in a tertiary source) which defended something like the position I attributed to Harman. That makes for a lock-solid case in favor of (H). And in that case, it doesn't matter who is the ant, and who the giant. There are simply the facts and the policies. Nevertheless, we can recognize the difference between a lock-solid case and a merely plausible case.
I do not know where Dean presently stands with respect to these nuances. But I know for a fact that he is trying to stick to the tertiaries for good reason. I'm not altogether unsympathetic to his priorities. (I've seen what madmen like User:Licorne can do with primary sources.) But your points can, I think, be accomodated, so long as they meet the many caveats that I laid out above: craftsmanship (guided by relevance, economy of words, and weight apportioned to level of contemporary consensus), and verifiability. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 17:13, 5 February 2007 (UTC) { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 17:22, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Wrong again. I do not advocate tertiary sources. Secondary sources are papers, books, articles in encyclopedias or compendia when written by named, authoritative source (such as Quinton on OCP). Tertiary sources are compilations of sec. sources by non-expert (such as here). Thus my sourcebook of medieval philosophy lists primary sources on Bonaventura as Latin editions, and English translations. (Technically, translations are less primary than the Latin, and of course even Latin editions are less primary than the manuscripts on which they are based). As secondary sources, it lists books, articles and encyclopedia articles on Bonaventura, where the articles are signed and authoritative. Where you actually find the article is irrelevant (some encyclopedia articles began life as papers, some encyclopedia articles ended up as primary sources). Got that? Dbuckner 19:29, 5 February 2007 (UTC) (Edward Buckner)
Roger. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 21:15, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Lucidish, I understand from what you are saying that conflicting secondary sources may draw on tertiary one's in considering if they represent a consensus or a minority view. But again you do not say clearly what you consider primary and secondary sources to be. Now the wiki policy gives primary sources in a different way to how we talk of them here, and as Dbuckner suggested we need an analogy to say which sources are to be preferred on wiki philosophy. By the way, Dbuckner this is what wiki says are tertiary sources:
"Tertiary sources are publications, such as encyclopedias, that sum up other secondary sources, and sometimes primary sources"
You seem to suggest that when a "paper" encylopedia is not "summing up" others it is then a preferred source, you never said how to know when is it not "summing up".
The reason perhaps they are tertiary is because they are not usually referred to, refuted etc., by others. So they are not part of the open "peer-review" process and are not generally for purposes of opening themselves up to critique and their philosophical positions are not normally quoted in academic philosophy literature.
Now the comment below by Rick Norwood talks of primaries as papyrus and such, this seems closest to the wiki definition. I feel however that we need to get away from talk of primaries as papyrus etc. and instead say which sources are preferred and which are not, since we are not archaelogists nor journalists. So let me try to summarise once more:

Lucidish:

Priority texts: ones that represent a consensus

Lesser sources: ones contested either by academic texts or philosophy texts or other encyclopedias.

Dbucker:

Priority sources: academic or encyclopedic ones that are not "works by great philosophers", .

Lesser sources: "works by great philosophers"

Rbellin:

Priority sources: textbooks and histories of philosophy

Lesser sources: philosophical texts

FT2:

Priority sources: sourced, verifiable

Lesser sources: non-published sources.

Rick Norwaood:

Priority sources: academic interpretations of manuscripts.

Lesser sources: original manuscripts

I still think there is a problem though. If, for example, Kant says that arithmetic is synthetic a prior and a secondary source written about Kant's work then argues that arithmetic is something else, I do not see how the secondary has any priority. A tertiary source from that time which says "the consensus however is that arithmetic is analytic priori" can not be prioritised either. In fact I'd consider Kant's view historically was probably the stronger or more influential one. So, unlike wiki policy, in philosophy you can't say primary sources are less preferred nor that tertiary, or majoritarian claims, represent the stronger view.
Similarly we can find views on Spinoza by Hegel, eg, that Spinoza was not atheist but acosmist, another one by Russell on Spinoza saying he was a pantheist. And then a little known academic or encylopedist claiming the consensus is that he was atheist. Surely it is the views of Spinoza himself that have the final say. Perhaps the problem is that, in its nature, philosophy is often about competing claims, and that consensus or majoritarian positions are called upon mainly in the form of straw men.

-- Lucas (Talk) 23:19, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

My understanding of primary/secondary sources follows Wikipedia's, and I take Edward's contrual to be a plausible interpretation of that (despite some misleading language on the NOR page which had just now led me astray). That is: tertiaries sum up x or y, secondaries synthesize x with y, primaries are x or y. Given that, I don't care one whit whether we use secondaries or tertiaries, so long as they are reputable. It seems to me that it is a red herring to focus on the tertiary/secondary distinction, when the real issue is what is scholarly and what is not. For example, a secondary scholarly source would laugh an "analytic a priori" or "synthetic a posteriori" interpretation of Kantian arithmetic into oblivion, and a tertiary one would never even broach some interpretation that is so far from the mainstream. The emphasis is upon respectability. A tertiary or secondary source that is written by some crank underneath London Bridge is not what we're looking for.
The point in warding against primaries is that they are often difficult to interpret and open a can of worms that is best left for the scholarly journals to deal with. The entire point is that we don't necessarily have the whole story on what Spinoza himself meant, and this is a hermeneutic puzzle that is resolved by appealing to vetted, plain-spoken professionals. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 02:48, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree, focus should be on if it is scholarly or not, rather than secondary or tertiary. But there may be other reasons not to be lifting stuff from competing encylopedias. Scholarly I would suggest is something that is open for other scholars to reply on, journal articles, academic textbooks, etc..

I'm not sure what you mean by someone laughing at these matters, sounds like a case of unwarranted superiority when the case seems to be that most of the "laughing, academics" are relying on ideas, not of their own, but of later philosophers in the canon. So, for example, in order to laugh at "analytic a priori" etc. they rely upon Quine or Wittgenstein.

On Spinoza, would a cited source from, Wichita academic, "Wayne Stewble" from 1955 saying that Spinoza was an atheist carry more weight than Hegel saying that Spinoza was not atheist but acosmist?

In summary do you think I should change:

Lucidish:

Priority texts: ones that represent a consensus

Lesser sources: ones contested either by academic texts or philosophy texts or other encyclopedias.

to:

Priority sources: academic or encyclopedic ones that are not works by great philosophers.

Lesser sources: works by great philosophers

-- Lucas (Talk) 05:11, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

The notion of "scholarship" will depend largely on peer-reviewed sources, true. But that doesn't exclude (say) the Blackwell volumes, which are recognized, cited, and reviewed in such journals. It isn't just being in a peer-reviewed journal that may count, but also being discussed by peer-reviewed journals.
My rejoinder to your Kant example was just to say that any person who attributes to Kant an absurd reading, is not going to get much of a push in the scholarship. On Spinoza: you'd have to cite your source, but we'd also have to pay particular attention to how such comments as that by Stewble have been received.
My views are identical to Wikipedia policy. The high-priority texts are the ones that represent contemporary consensus views (preference for scholarly secondary and tertiary sources is a means to that end). Primary sources are admissible, so not of lesser or lower priority, but they are not preferred unless they are used in the most literal, exegetical way. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 00:07, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

But please, always to call it -- research

I note that Wikipedia does not have articles on primary reserach and secondary research. It should. My own impression is as follows.

Primary sources are original manuscripts and physical artifacts such as the Rhind papyrus or the Rosetta stone. Secondary sources are articles written by people who have examined the Rhind papyrus or the Rosetta stone and who publish their findings, usually (these days) in refereed academic journals, in earlier times in books or monographs. I have not heard the phrase "tertiary sources" in my scholarly reading. What I have heard is "scholarly", describing a book or article written by someone who has actually read the secondary sources, and "popular", describing a book or article written by someone who has only read the scholarly books and articles, not the primary or secondary sources, and now tries to simplify those for the general reader. Usually scholarly books and articles are written by experts in the field, popular books and articles by professional writers who are not experts in the field.

People who write for Wikipedia can make their greatest contribution when they write about their own areas of expertise (in my case, mathematics and comic strips). Sometimes, however, if we have read primary and secondary sources widely and carefully, as well as scholarly books on a subject, we get tempted to say something about, oh, I don't know, maybe philosophy.

A person who has only read popular books on a subject should not try to write about that subject.

Footnotes may refer to primary or secondary sources, or to scholarly works. They should only reference popular works in order to make a point about the popular work being referenced.

Rick Norwood 19:54, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean, Rick. See: primary source, secondary source, tertiary source. Unless you mean "Wikipolicy pages" or make a distinction between sourcing and research... { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 21:19, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

My comment was about the redlinks in the article research. The articles primary source and secondary source are good. Tertiary source is short, controversial, and contradicts the other two articles. It should be deleted. Rick Norwood 13:29, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Primary and Secondary (again)

It is obvious from the discussions here that (apart from Ben) the people involved have not read WP:OR. Since people are evidently incapable of following a link, let me digress here. The three pillars of WPOR are as follows:

  • Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought
  • Articles should only contain verifiable content from reliable sources without further analysis
  • Content should not be synthesized to advance a position

Which in fact boils down to one pillar (the first statement) supported by the two below (verifiable reliable sources + not analysis or synthesis). It doesn't use the word 'scholarly', it uses the word 'verifiable and reliable'. Verifiable is obvious, 'reliable' is explained as: "books and journals published by university presses; mainstream newspapers; and magazines and journals published by known publishing houses. As a rule of thumb, the more people engaged in checking facts, analysing legal issues, and scrutinizing the writing, the more reliable the publication." Then the policy defines primary, secondary and tertiary sources. It is these definitions only that we are concerned about.

Lucas says" So, unlike wiki policy, in philosophy you can't say primary sources are less preferred nor that tertiary, or majoritarian claims, represent the stronger view." That is fine for people doing original research, for the aim of original research is truth. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. Ergo, no original research allowed in Wiki. Got that? Dbuckner 09:04, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

This quote from me that you mention is not part of my understanding of wiki policy. You here "synthesis" your own version of what I was saying. If you look at the quote from me you will notice a little word at the beginning, "So". This indicates that it follows from something said prior to it which you leave out, and you create a whole new section here in order to do it. Why you do this? Because otherwise you would not be able to make your point. Remember my position (stated clearly in the above section) is that verifiable sources are what is required, after that it comes to skill and judgement. From discussion above it seems clear that anything other than this is tentatively extra and depends on which editor you speak to. My "extra" opinion at the moment, unlike your "extra" opinion, is that I do not consider major philosophers in general to be less preferable sources than other ones. I say "at the moment" because I've not seen any argument against this so far, even though its been a useful discussion of the skill involved in choosing sources. -- Lucas (Talk) 10:59, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
  • I was not disagreeing with you. I just said it was not wiki policy.
  • You now say "my position (stated clearly in the above section) is that verifiable sources are what is required, after that it comes to skill and judgement." Wiki policy is not just about verifiability. It says no original research in Wikipedia. This means verifiable content from reliable sources, which has not been interpreted or synthesized to advance a position. Do you agree?
  • You say 'I do not consider major philosophers in general to be less preferable sources than other ones'. What you consider is irrelevant. You need to comply with Wiki policy on editing.
  • You say "I've not seen any argument against this so far". The argument is that the works of major philosophers are considered primary sources according to Wiki policy, because they are (a) documents close to the original source and (b) they require analysis and synthesis before they can be directly included in an article. Do you agree? Dbuckner 11:52, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

I think you aught comply with wiki policy too. The problem of course is saying just what that policy is. Now the subject so far has been about sources and not on analysing or synthesing. But even on this simple matter of sources there seems to be agreement only insofar as we all agree that they are required, there is less agreement about which sources are to be preferred. You prefer sources that are not major philosophers others give no such prefernce.

On the matter of analysing a philosopher's position or synthesising a position, this must be carried out with reference to sources. One cannot give a philosopher's position ("put forward a position on him) without taking it out of the context of his work, and this means analysing it. So in giving a certain position from a philosopher you must have a source to say why this position is given rather than another one. The same criteria apply to synthesis, you must source to show why this synthesis is valid and relevant. -- Lucas (Talk) 18:52, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Two cats in a sack.

It has been a long time (or so it seems to this lurker) that the discussion on this page has been about the article. I've lived through many a fan feud, but Talk:Philosophy is not the place to indulge in personalities. Rick Norwood 13:36, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Agree. --Ludvikus 14:20, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
The talk has been (mostly ) about what counts as a secondary source, and is directly related to the possibility of making any progress on this page. I and a number of other people (Mel Etitis, KD, probably 271828182, probably Mtevfrog) would like to change the current introduction so that it unambiguously characterises the method of philosophy as rational, critical. Three editors, however, have consistently opposed this, namely you (Rick), Lucas and Ludvikus. Many sources have been cited as supporting this claim about the method of philosophy, you have continued to deny (especially Lucas) that these count as secondary sources.
On discussions about personalities, well, those have concerned the behaviour of Lucas, who is making it difficult for bona fide editors to make progress on the article. Again, that concerns progress on the article. Dbuckner 15:29, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Rick, the latest conversation has been on a matter which is crucial to the development of the page: how we treat primary and secondary sources. Also, Edward had some quite valid concerns over my edits to the page not long ago, which may be found above, and upon which he acted appropriately. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 15:32, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
And I must admit I am floundering on that issue. I am too new to be as familiar with Wiki policy, but I am balking a little at writing an article on, say, Being and Time, if it has to cite commentaries on Being and Time rather than the book itself. Maybe I am misunderstanding. Note, I am not saying it can't be done, but it might have to be left to people who have a collection of such commentaries. KD Tries Again 16:49, 7 February 2007 (UTC)KD
It's a matter of judgment. Remember WP:OR was brought in as a weapon against cranks and trolls. If you write something that, as an expert, you feel is one of the things most other experts on the subject would agree with as obvious, don't bother to cite. No other expert editor will challenge you. By contrast, if a crank writes something silly, you can then challenge them, and revert. If they persist in reverting without citation, off they go to jail. If a crank challenges you about something, you will probably have to provide a citation (whether this has to go into the article, or whether you merely have to satisfy the crank, I'm not sure). If you get repeatedly get challenged on things that don't need citation, send them to jail.
What really needs hardening is the attitude to these sort of people. As you've seen, there's a tendency to blame experienced and expert editors for reacting badly to cranks. I'm hoping this will change. Dbuckner 17:03, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm relieved the discussion is less shrill this time around. Dbuckner's position is basically that of most serious academic-subject Wikipedians, but I have to say one further thing: I think better sourcing can be very useful even for the parts of an article that are "common knowledge" to experts in a field. It serves three useful purposes there: first, prophylactically protecting against cranks' challenges and allowing non-expert editors to revert them more easily; second, providing further reading to interested lay readers; third, perhaps most important, it forces self-clarification on the expert writer during the writing process. It has often been true in my own writing for Wikipedia that finding secondary, pedagogical sources improves and clarifies the writing, rather than just providing support for common-knowledge claims. So, to take KD's example, it's surely better to have an expert-written article on Being and Time than a crank-written, original-research one, even if both rely on no source but the original text; but best of all, and the eventual desired goal for all Wikipedia articles, is to have an article that cites many secondary sources like commentaries and scholarly articles, rather than doing the interpretation in its own (Wikipedia's own) voice. -- Rbellin|Talk 19:41, 7 February 2007 (UTC)


The "method of philosophy as rational, critical" [Dbuckner above]. - Why, Dbuckner, do you insist? This article is not about Analytic philosophy. And the three of us recognize that Continental philosophy recognizes that man is not so rational and critical as one would have him be. These often are philosophers who, inter alia, have been very strongly influenced by Marx and Freud (and it is unfortunate that Freud does not fit neatly into the pigeon-hole of philosophy). How do you defend against the charge that "rationality" is merely a personal preference of one who wishes to characterize philosophy so? Suppose 90% of the world-class philosophers agree with you. But what about the other 10%? Are they wrong?
I think that the three of us just recognize that there are major world-class philosophers who claim that man (including great philosophers) are not as Rational as we would like them to be. Why is that such a great insurmountable problem? --Ludvikus 17:25, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

I second Rbellin's comment above.

My objection to "rational" being pushed harder in the introduction than it already is has nothing to do with "primary" vs. "secondary" but rather has to do with citing philosophers from one school of philosophy and ruling out by definition all other schools. It's a little like a Harvard man defining "university" as "a center of learning in Massachusetts" and citing other Harvard men to back him up. It seems to me that the current introduction: "Some encyclopedias have described philosophy in terms of intellectual inquiry and the use of critical analysis and reasoning, as well as dialogue or introspection, to solve intractable and fundamental problems. [4] Others state that philosophy examines the process of inquiry itself." makes Dbuckner's point as strongly as it needs to be made. Rick Norwood 20:44, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

But this is your own research. What I object to is the implication in "Some encyclopedias have described philosophy in terms of intellectual inquiry ..." that perhaps other encyclopedias have described philosophy as something else. You have yet to produce a single citation for your claim that it is otherwise. The onus is, according to WP:OR to show that there is a significant minority with an opposing view. You have not even shown that. Which encyclopedia or reference book says that philosophy is not rational or critical enquiry? Dbuckner 20:59, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
One further consider the folowing quote from NPOV:
-If a viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts;
-If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents;
-If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it does not belong in Wikipedia (except perhaps in some ancillary article) regardless of whether it is true or not; and regardless of whether you can prove it or not.
-In other words, views held only by a tiny minority of people should not be represented as though they are significant minority views, and perhaps should not be represented at all. Richiar 00:03, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Rick, you are misreading. Mere description is not the same as definition. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 01:58, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Sorry? I was making a reference to the comments of Ludvikus and minority opinion "...what about the other 10 %, are they wrong?...". My comments are a direct quote from NPOV, meant to say that even if Ludvikus produces something from an encyclopedia or reference, it may still not be appropriate for the article. I was elaborating on DBuckners comments above mine.
Further, Ludvikus makes the plea that man (including great philosophers) is considered by (some) Great Philosophers to not be as Rational as we would like them to be. So is this what the disruption for the past month has been about? That people are irrational? (Yes, I am reviewing the Philosophy archives, yes I am taking into condsideration the Analytic Continental debate, yes I am reading everyones comments on the talk pages and learning from them, yes, I am a layperson, and I don't wish to intrude where others have more competence than I). But I really don't understand the point Ludvikus is making, it seems to makes no sense to anything relevant to the writing of this article, and if this is the substance of his campaign, then I can understand why some people are hostile toward this editor.
If I am misunderstanding something, I do apologize, and would wish to receive a little more clarification. And sorry if I am detracting from the progress of the article. I try not to do so. Thanks.Richiar 03:04, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Not you Rich! I meant Rick Norwood. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 03:13, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
It was the great British Empirisists who first cast doubt on the possibility of philosophical development by way of principles of Rationality, or Reason. And the destructive blow came from Hume. Kant attempted to patch things up with his Critiques. But he to was found wanting by Hegel, and Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind/Spirit. Marx may be abstracted as saying that philosophy reflects class interests. Perhaps the point is hard to see because Analytic Philosophy does better with the easier problems: logic, ontology, etc., but fails in ethics, politics, etc. It is the latter subjects that have been more susscessfully treated by Analytic philosophy means; whereas on the Continent, ethics and politics are of greater concern.
I think it is necessary to be modest in defining, or characterizing, philosophy. And claiming that philosophy is rational, or critical, inquery, is an insult to Continental philosophers and thinkers who have been preoccupied with the Irrationality of Man in the 19th and 20th centuries.
But also, the Philosophers who do not find Rationality as the characterizing criteria are not easy - but often easily dismissed by their Anglo-American opponents. Jürgen Habermas in his Knowledge and Human Interests (1968/1971), Ch. 9 (Reason and Interest: Retrospect on Kant and Fichte), p. 191, says:
       ... The rigorously empirical sciences are subject to the transcendental conditions
  of instrumental action, while the hermeneutic sciences proceed on the level of communicative
  action.
       The relations of language, action, and experience differ in principle for the two forms
  of science. ...

Yours truly, Ludvikus 04:42, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

OK. I'm going to reply to the above in parts:

1) "It was the British Empiricists who first cast doubt . . .etc". Yeah, I'm sure there were great British empiricists.

2) "The destructive blow came from Hume..." Nobody has that much power, except in fairy tales. George W. Bush thinks he does, but he's not doing so hot right now.

3) Then you get lost in rambling.

4) "I think that it is important to be modest in defining, or characterizing, Philosophy. Well, thats nice. Modesty is a good thing, As long as you think that, fine. If that thought begins to convert to a nerve impulse that goes down your arms into the muscles of your fingers, to the keys of the keyboard of your computer and becomes an agenda campaign, be prepared for a cruise missle attack from me. I might ask you what the relationship is between modesty and philosophy, but then you'd have a 3 page reply, which would then require another 12 page explanation, and it the meantime what about what is going on here? There are men and women working here trying to get something done. So don't bring this stuff up unless people what you to tell them about it.

You and I are not the ones to decide what philosophy should be. I am a lay person. I read what interests me, and try to apply it to my life. It is for philosophers to tell us what philosophy is, and you, are not a philosopher. You need to do things like open the door for people when they come in, get them a glass of water, ask them how their day went, that sort of thing, but not talk to people about philosophy, because you don't know what philosophy is. You are a con man: the main man you have conned is yourself.

Rationalism is an insult to the Continentals?I don't think so. Now you're creating some artifcial drama here. First of all, I'm sure the Continentals are much better at defending themselves than you are. Let them take care of themselves. What is that to you? Go get some yankee tickets.

There could be some interesting discussion about the Contintntal philosophers you mention, I tend to prefer them myself, but you take everything out of context and stir up debate. People are to busy, they have work to do here, if it doesn't suit you, then go, and write some articles about cats. But don't try to keep spoiling the serous work others are trying to do. Richiar 06:41, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Ludvikus is in fact correct to point out that Continental philosophers have argued the fundamental irrationality of man. Many other philosophers have done so. But as I point out below, that is not the issue: it is about whether the correct method of philosophy is rational enquiry. Many people cannot are ungrammatical. That does not mean that the method of grammar involves bad grammar. Best Dbuckner 07:07, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

The Method of Philosophy as Rational Enquiry

1. Rick Norwood argues that defining philosophy as rational enquiry, and using appropriate secondary and tertiary sources to prove it is like a Harvard man defining "university" as "a center of learning in Massachusetts" and citing other Harvard men to back him up. It is ruling out by definition other schools. I don't follow this argument. There are no secondary or tertiary sources that define Harvard as a center of learning in Massachusetts. But there are many such sources that define the method of philosophy as rational enquiry. I have asked Norwood many times to produce a single source that justifies his own definition, but he has not done so. The policy says that "If a viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts" Commonly accepted reference texts say that the method of philosophy is rational enquiry. It says that "If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents". Rick Norwood, please tell us about prominent adherents of the view that the method of philosophy is not rational enquiry? Apart from you, Ludvikus and Lucas, that is.

2. Ludvikus argues that some philosophers hold that man is not so rational and critical as one would have him be. Very true. And most mathematics teachers hold that people do not add and subtract as well as they would like. But, nevertheless, the method of mathematics does not involve faulty arithmetic, any more than the method of philosophy involves faulty reasoning. The fact that plenty of people, and plenty of philosophers reason poorly, does not imply anything about the method of philosophy. Note Ludvikus has used this argument many times, and many times this flaw in his argument has been pointed out. I shall start collecting edit trails on this one.

Proposed Introduction

The present introduction is a mess. I propose to move to a version of the introduction we had back in December 2006, supported by myself and Mel Etitis here. I have modified it to reflect expert views on the Greek spelling, as discussed earlier. Thus it runs as follows:


Philosophy - literally 'love of wisdom', derived from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophía: love of wisdom), compounded from φίλος (phílos: friend, or lover) and σοφία (sophía: wisdom) - is an academic discipline concerned with the most fundamental and general concepts and principles involved in thought, action, and reality. Its method is rational enquiry.[1]
Its main branches are metaphysics, the theory of what things can ultimately be said to exist, epistemology, the question of the conditions for knowledge, and the justification for claims to knowledge, ethics, the analysis of what sorts of moral values there are, and logic, the basic principles of reasoning and deduction.

I don't want to hear people's opinions on this subject. I want to hear reasoned arguments based on authoritative secondary and tertiary sources that this definition does not represent the significant majority view, as defined in WP:OR. Dbuckner 07:02, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm afraid an opinion is what I intend to offer nonetheless. The current intro. does still have the written-by-committee aftertaste on it. Moving to this one is reasonable but leaving the current one is not unreasonable; I can live with either. I do like seeing academic discipline in there because that is what it really is. In what you propose I'd want to shorten the etymology and put the further details of it later in the article. I also think it's appropriate in the intro. to mention that what is called Eastern philosophy has a somewhat different look-and-feel.
An unscientific sampling of the WP entries of various university dept. names shows most are in the range of four-ish paragraphs long, though some paragraphs are just one sentence. Only physics had just a single paragraph intro. The suggested intro. here may be too brief. JJL 14:17, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

OK then let's try this. A little longer, leaves out the etymology (but remember what a fight there as about that), and has a bit about the non-Western traditions. It is based on some paragraphs contributed by Peter King (English philosopher who participated here briefly before being frightened off by the antics).


Philosophy (literally 'love of wisdom') is an academic discipline concerned with the most fundamental and general concepts and principles involved in thought, action, and reality. It is generally agreed to be a method, rather than a set of claims, propositions or theories. The method involves rational and rigorous enquiry. Its investigations are, unlike those of astrology, religion, etc., wedded to reason, making no unexamined assumptions, no leaps based purely on analogy, revelation or authority.
There is no general agreement about the main branches of of philosophy, as there have been different, equally acceptable divisions at different times, and the divisions are often relative to the concerns of philosophers in different periods. They also overlap considerably. Nevertheless, they are generally held to include metaphysics, the theory of what things can ultimately be said to exist, epistemology, the question of the conditions for knowledge, and the justification for claims to knowledge, ethics, the analysis of what sorts of moral values there are, and logic, the basic principles of reasoning and deduction.
What is called 'Western philosophy' is a tradition that begins with Plato and Aristotle, which developed more or less continuously through the medieval and early modern periods until the present day. However, philosophy is not unique to the West. There are a number of intellectual traditions outside the West which may be broadly characterised as 'philosophy'. See Eastern philosophy.

Dbuckner 14:42, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Edward, a year's worth of arguments and citations have been provided to you in favor of keeping the relevant material. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 14:56, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
There are two issues. The first is that the style of the current version is horrible, and needs cleaning up. Would anyone object if at least I worked on that? The second is that it is inaccurate. Which bits precisely do you want to keep? The bits I've omitted, and the reasons for omitting them are as follows:
It was generally agreed that "Still others argue that philosophy is continuous with the best practices in every intellectual field" is pretty confusing. It should be there, but not in the introduction.
I've already argued that 'some .. others … still others' is grossly misleading.
The sentence 'The definition of philosophy is itself a theme of philosophy' is clumsy and awkward. As someone else said, the subject of literature discusses literature, the subject of medicine discusses medicine. All subjects concern themselves with what the precise boundaries of the subject should be.

Dbuckner 15:23, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

I have nothing to say about style. I have no comment about the "others...still others" phrasing; I suppose it could be better, and I can at least see your point of view. I also agree that the phrasing in the 'definition of philosophy' sentence (esp. use of the word 'theme') is a bit weird. The core idea that it seems to be trying to express is that the definition of philosophy is itself contested by experts, and this is unique to philosophy. (See, for instance, the Russell quote from Wisdom of the West, which is unequivocal.)
However, your statement about "general agreement" on metaphilosophical naturalism is NOT the case. It is consistent with one of our exemplars (Blackburn), not to mention is a pivotal issue for Searle's introduction in the Blackwell Companion. It merits inclusion on pain of violating NPOV. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 00:55, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Analytic vs. Continental

Beyond Analytic Philosophy: Doing Justice to What We Know by Hao Wang (1988) ISBN 0-262-73080-4, pp. 115-6, says:
       I have often been struck by what might be called the dilemma of nothing-but and
  something-more in attempts to achieve a comprehensive philosophical position. a nothing-but
  philosophy tends to begin in an elegant way and then, if it attracts enough attention and
  criticism, undergoes stages of liberalization until it runs up by a new and different path
  against familiar difficulties in early philosophies. ... On the other hand, if one begins by
  taking a flexible enough framework to include the something-more, it may be so difficult to
  penetrate the large structure that one cannot even separate out the more reasonable parts
  from the rest.
       ... The contrast between 'analytic' and 'continental' philosophers may be summarized by
  such a distinction. The analytic philosophers tend to do better with the 'nothing but' part;
  the continental philosophers tend to begin with and to concentrate their attention on the
  'something more' part. In the case of individual philosophers, J. Habermas, for instance,
  appears to display in public his continued efforts, unsuccessful thus far, to blend a
  positivist cum pragmatist element of nothing-but with an elusive something-more element along
  the tradition of the average German philosophers.

Dbuckner's compaign to characterise philosophy as "rational enquiry" effectively dismisses Continental philosophers as simply failing to comprehend the rational nature of their philosophical inquiries. In fact, their concern is precisely with the failure to identify what makes an inquiry Rational - besides merely calling it so. --Ludvikus 15:17, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

"The Linguistic Turn"

Recent Essays in Philosophical Method ed. by Richard Rorty (1967/1970), Ch. 28, by Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, A Prerequisite for Rational Philosophical Discussion opens with the following observation:

       Communication between philosophers has been deteriorating during the last decades.
  Logical empiricists and British linguistic philosophers have been branding large parts
  of the output of their speculative colleagues as 'nonsense' and 'literally unintelligible'.
  Speculative metaphysicians, after having recovered from the first shock, either just
  disregard these declarations, or else declare, on their part, that the standards of
  intelligibility employed by the critics are arbitrary.

I suspect that this campaign - under the banner of Rational Enquiry - is a smoke screen to dismiss Continentals as perpetrators of Nonsense. That, I think, is the view of Mel Etitis - who, by the way, is Wikistalking me at the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Here we have another fine example (sarcasm) of rational enquiry, regarding a "bizarre" observation concerning allegedly myself. Dbuckner, as I said before, I recognize your dedication to philosophy. So I ask you to look all around you, and see how all human methods are infested with irrationality. This Wikipedia is One Text, in a sense. Why must we take a narrow view of things? Look more carefully at the methods used to silence one another here. I realize this may be distasteful. But progress often takes place by stepping out of the box. In my opinion, you have too much invested in that word Rational - especially in the light of being surrounded by so much irrationality. The word just dangles there - it does nothing to improve the condition of philosophy. Yet you, Dbuckner are the most gifted socially - if anyone can make this discourse more Rational - it is you who can do it. Rationality belongs in our Meta-Wikipedia - and it still is not there to the degree it can be. --Ludvikus 16:05, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't see this as having anything to do with analytical vs. continental. Both groups argue their cases; if analytical does so in a more formal style, that doesn't mean that continental is less rational at its base. Continental philosophers give reasons for believing things, don't they? Marx attempted to support his positions, which he had arrived at by considering the state of affairs as he saw it--that is, by a rational inquiry into economics, politics, and class? Would any continental philosopher say "There's no good reason for believing this stuff--it just looked good to me"? (Hold the Derrida jokes!) I'm sure an example could be adduced, but fundamentally, if it isn't supported by an argument using logic and marshaling evidence, it doesn't sound like (Western) philosophy to me. JJL 20:36, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely correct. And as far as Marx is concerned, he goes so far as to claim that dialectical materialism surpasses mere ideology and is in fact scientific. Hardly an embrace of the irrational. KD Tries Again 20:47, 8 February 2007 (UTC)KD
I think what might be missing is a critical edge on these matters. What might be the problem certain philosophers have with Rationality is more to do with what is, or was, done in its name, so the criticism of the Enlightenment can be also a criticism of Nazism and the mis-use of reason in eugenics etc. I'm not sure where this kind of critique occurs in Analytic but in Continental it generally is not very sparing of those who might claim innocence and promulgate what they call or define themselves as "Reason" and gets taken up and used for other purposes to the complete neglect of another's emotion, religion, romaticism, Freud, tradition, etc. We can also find the unreasonable as one of the foundational pillars of Modern philosophy in Descartes' Demon. -- Lucas (Talk) 16:55, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

pure reason

Dbuckner challenges me to produce a major philosopher who says there is more to philosophy than reason. I have answered that challenge several times: Kant is probably the most famous philosopher to make that assertion. I've also quoted Carlyle, who is not in the same league with Kant, but who has a respectable reputation.

But my main point, which I have made several times and which Dbuckner has never answered, is this. If the question of whether or not rational investigation is desirable or even possible is not a philosophical question, then to what discipline do such questions belong? Rational discourse should be defended by evidence, not handed down like holy writ as part of the definition.

Rick Norwood 15:22, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

The challenge was for you to give a single citation showing that the method of philosophy does not include rational enquiry. The quote from Carlyle does not show that, as I already pointed that. And I have already answered your second point too. I said that this was an interesting question, but it was original research. If the textbook definitions say the method of philosophy is rational enquiry, then Wikipedia says that too. You have still not produced a single authoritative reference saying that the method of philosophy is not rational enquiry. How long does this have to go on? Dbuckner 15:31, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
On your point about Kant, if you remember I challenged you to locat this in Kant. You replied that you find reading Kant rather tedious and difficult (this does not surprise me). In fact, Kant says that the method of philosophy is rational enquiry. See the page Talk:Philosophy/Quotations under the section: Kant. Dbuckner 15:34, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Something about rational/reasoned/logical should be in there. It definitely is an important part of being able to recognize philosophy as being such--or as is said about math., answers without reasons is magic, not mathematics. Philosophers, like mathematicians, argue. JJL 15:46, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, thank you, exactly. It's like saying that certain kinds of mathematics don't involve proofs. In what sense would it be mathematics any more? Dbuckner 15:55, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Philosophy is also not moon exploration - but I cannot think of a single philosopher who says that (probably because no one does). Does it follow that philosophy is moon exploration? But why, Dbuckner, do you ignore Marx? Does he not say that philosophy reflects class interests? Is that not tantamount to saying that it is not rational inquiry? Do you think the oil industry presents us with rational arguments against global warming? Or does the cigaret industry present us with rational arguments that smoking does not lead to cancer? Why do you not see that Marx maintains that philosophers, in the academies of the West, are not insulated from similar irrationalities? Do you believe that their abode in their ivory towers makes them immune from their class interests? I cannot understand why you are so dismissive of Marx - except perhaps for your own possible prejudice against him. There is probably no better counterexample (to rationality) than Karl Marx. Now you are not required to accept Marx - but how can you dismiss him as a philosopher? What Marx did to Hegel is common knowledge to Continentals - but not so to Anglo-Amercans. Hegel saw the History of Philosophy is a kind of unfolding of a Universal Mind in History. The Dialectic is the constant evolution of philosophies into their opposites with a synthesis at the third stage. So what is Rational today becomes Irrational tomorrow. Marx saw this not as a Hegelian Idealist (the Real is Rational and vica versa), but as a materialist. Philosdophy is therefore (for Marx) an Idiology, or a collection thereof - and as such - a reflection of class interests. Now you may not like, appreciate, or understand, this train of thought. But it exists. And as a Wikipedian Encyclopedist, you have a duty to present it to the reader. On the other hand, perhaps class interests are such here, on Wikipedia, that Capitalism requires the silencing of Continental views (I'm only following up the Marxist argument and viewpoint). Yours truly, --Ludvikus 17:46, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Ludvikus should be reported immediately for the personal asides on this page today, and I'll be happy to do that. As for the general discussion, there really is no stalemate unless someone can produce not just any authority, but a notable authority to the effect that philosophy is not a rational exercise. And I am not wedded to the word "rational" - I am wedded to the idea that philosophy does need to be distinguished from other disciplines by reference to what is - obviously - its method: the advancement, consideration and acceptance or refutation of arguments. I myself have produced the handful of authorities I can find which would oppose this - Lyotard only in one work (he rejected the position himself), Shestov, and arguably Bataille. Deleuze would place the emphasis a little differently. These are grains of sand on a two thousand year old beach. Footnote them by all means, but do not use them as grounds to argue that Wikipedia must be unique among encyclopaedias in being unable to say what philosophy is. KD Tries Again 17:54, 8 February 2007 (UTC)KD
I presume we are required to engage here in a rational discourse. Your personal attack upon me, that I "should be reported immediately," and that you shall be "happy to do that" sounds to me like you think we are in kindergarden. Why must you police my remarks in such an irrational way? Why don't you tell us what you consider a notable authority? Am I supposed to deduce from your threatening remark above that you do not consider Marx such an authority? You seem to sweep over the argument that has been presented - why must we find authorities which maintain that philosophy is not a rational exercise? It seems to me that the burden of proof rests on your shoulders. I have the Continent of Europe on my side. It seems to me that part of your arguments is to "report me immediately". What is the aim - is it not to get rid of me and my argument? Isn't that precisely the method employed by Stalin and Hitler? With whom one doesn't agree - him one must silence. That's precisely what moved the Frankfurt school to take issue with Rationality in the 20th century. Are you going to report that immediately? And take pleasure in it as well? Is that the kind of Argument or "excercise" you call Rational? --Ludvikus 22:08, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Stalin and Hitler? I call Godwin's Law. You've given up. JJL 00:58, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Marx is certainly an authority, and he claimed that his work was "scientific", rather than not rational. You need to find authorities, because otherwise the claim is OR or POV. The Frankfurt School did not take issue with rationality as such - see Adorno/Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment; Adorno, Negative Dialectics. You need only read as far as the sub-title of the latter. Adorno championed critical rationality against instrumental rationality. Or take a look at Lukacs, and his attack on irrationalism in The Destruction of Reason. You'll find Sartre discussing a "rationality of the world" in - I think - chapter one of the CDR. So, you see, you don't have the continent of Europe with you at all. I can't see anything else to respond to here, but I'll certainly report the remarks about Hitler and Stalin. KD Tries Again 22:20, 8 February 2007 (UTC)KD

We are not here to do philosophy

But to write about philosophy. Keep that in mind. Banno 20:35, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

in praising reason, be reasonable

Dbuckner claims that ALL philosophy is rational. I respond with examples that not ALL philosophy is rational. Dbuckner replies as if I had claimed that NO philosophy is rational. This is, as Spock would say, highly irrational.

I point out that a discusion of rational methods is itself a part of philosophy. Dbucker responds that this discussion is original research. Well, of course it is. The rule against OR applies to writing for Wikipedia, not to writing for Philosophy journals.

Dbuckner quotes Kant, but out of context. I'll be back in a minute with the context from Dbucker's own page. Rick Norwood 22:45, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Lectures on logic, Introduction.

Here are some Kant quotes from Dbuckner's own page, with examples of Kant's denial that reason is sufficient for philosophy in bold:

"As concerns philosophy according to the world concept [Weltbegriffe], however, (in sensu cosmico), one may call it a science of the highest maxim of the use of our reason, if by maxim one understands the inner principle of choice among different ends."

"The philosopher, therefore, must be able to determine

1. the sources of human knowledge 2. the extenet of the possible and advantageous use of all knowledge, and finally 3. the limits of reason."

"Two things, primarily, make the philosopher. (1) Cultivation of talents and skill to use them for various ends. (2) Readiness in the use of all means to any ends one may choose."

Rick Norwood 22:51, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

The sufficient conditions for philosophy have rarely been at issue, only the necessary ones have been.
And these interpretations really are stretching it. They're not exegetical. The first and second (with their emphases upon choice) do not support the conclusion in any obvious way. The second -- determining the limits of reason -- is at least sort of on topic, but doesn't mean that the philosopher makes no use of reason. The philosopher uses reason to discover its own limits. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 01:06, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Agree. Rick – of course he says the philosopher may make use of all means to any ends he may choose. But then read the sentence which follows, to see what he means by that. On the limits of reason, many philosophers have tried to determine the limits of reason, and many have thought there are strict limits to reason. But all gave reasons for this, i.e. reasons for why there are limits to reason. Just as Godel's proof shows there are limits to what can be demonstrated using mathematical proof. But it uses mathematical proof to do this. I've already pointed that out, and you agreed, I believe. Dbuckner 08:31, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
So why not say philosophers use their head, or brain, or mind? --Ludvikus 13:46, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
I wish you would stop this endless prevarication and try and follow the thread of this discussion. In answer to your question. (1) The claim was that the method of philosophy involves rational enquiry. This is a claim about the method of philosophy, not about philosophers. Philosophers have brains, heads, and minds, the method they follow is an abstract object, which has no brain, head, or mind. (2) Even if we had said that philosophers use reason, and said nothing about the method they use, this would not be equivalent to using their brain, head, or mind. For people can use their brain, head, or mind in quite irrational and illogical ways, as these discussions have amply demonstrated. (3) None of the secondary sources we are using for citation say anything about brains, heads, or minds. That would be sufficient to rule out that way of putting it. I believe you still haven't quite grasped this point. We are not here to discuss what we think is true. We are here to discuss what verifiable content can go onto this page. Your constant diversions are making this very difficult. Dbuckner 14:04, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Lucidish: why keep bringing up the straw man "but doesn't mean that the philosopher makes no use of reason". Nobody here has said that. I doubt anybody will.

Dbuckner: Kant (but not all philosophers) began with reason, but when he reached the limits of reason (as he saw them) he did not stop doing philosophy, but went on to make pronouncements about, most importantly, God, which he said could not be arrived at by reason but which could be arrived at by other methods. To say that philosophy "involves" rational discussion I have no objection to. The current intro says as much. To say that philosophy "is" rational discussion goes too far. Rick Norwood 14:11, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

My point was that no one I know denies Aristotle's claim, or dictum - that Man is a Rational Being, which distinguishes Man from the other Animals - and that may be a general charateristic of the head, or brain, or mind. But your claim, that there is a rational method, or a rational enquiry, which is the method of philosophy, is negated by Kant's Critique of Pure Reason - and I believe that was Rick Norwood's point. Perhaps P. F. Strawson's The Bounds of Sense (1966/1973) ISBN 0-416-83560-0, p. 12 may help us make the argument more pursuasively:
  Dogmatic rationalism exceeds the upper bound of sense, as classical empiricism falls short
  of the lower. But Kant's arguments for these limiting conclusions are developed within the
  framework of a set of doctrines which themselves appear to violate his own critical 
  principles. He seeks to draw the bounds of sense from a point outside them, a point which,
  if they are rightly drawn, cannot exist.
  [emphasis added]

So since you, Dbuckner, are not expounding Aristotle's general view of human nature (as Rational), but some special method of philosophy, why don't you tell us what this/these special Bounds of Sense is/are - that underly the practice of philosophy? Or which philosopher(s), in your view, succeeded in solving the problem as expounded by Kant? --Ludvikus 14:38, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Rick: what pronouncements made by Kant about God are you specifically talking about? Can you give me a precise page or chapter please. Thanks Dbuckner 15:07, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Ludvikus, how is the claim (that the method of method of philosophy is rational enquiry) negated by Kant's Critique of Pure Reason? You actually quoted from a book by Strawson which is itself a critique of Kant's critique. How is that relevant to what we are discussing? Try to make your remarks to the point. If you quote anything, try to show how the quotation is relevant to what was being discussed. And try to avoid doing philosophy. We are not here to do philosophy. We are here to write an internet encyclopedia, by drawing on verifiable sources which are relevant to what is said in the article. Dbuckner 15:07, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
You ask difficult questions - yet you demand simple answers. Simply put, Kant asked what is Rational[ity]? He then presented us with his view of it (in his Critique). He further argued that even within his philosophy there were ideas/concepts which transcended Rationality - among these are God. God, according to Kant, is a fundamentally Irrational notion - but a notion which is unavoidable - one which is bound to come up. It emerges from Reason, and actually violates the principles of Reason. Kant recognized that Rational Man is bound to contemplate certain unavoidable notions which transcend the bounds of Rationality. Ludvikus 15:21, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
How does this show that the method of philosophy does not involve rational enquiry? I'm not an expert on Kant, but I thought argued that human reason constantly seeks to overstep its limits, and requires a discipline to stay within those limits, i.e., the critical method of philosophy. By means of this method, Kant tries to undermine any theoretical proof for the existence of God. Thus he identifies one of the limits upon the use of human reason. But that does not show that the method of philosophy is not rational enquiry. It is an argument against 'rationalist metaphysics'. And, note, it is an argument. That's what philosophers do for a livinig. They present arguments for and against things. Dbuckner 15:49, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Kant also proposed what is sometimes called the "moral argument" for God, for and the immortality of the soul. But this was not intended to be an argument. As far as I understand it, it is that the existence of God needs to be presumed if people are to be motivated to act morally. And that is something that it is entirely rational to argue. And note, as before, that it is an argument. Dbuckner 15:49, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
It's that jump of yours, from what philosophers do for a living - get employed in colleges and universities, publishes papers in various journals, present arguments, make enquiries, etc., to that loaded word, Rational, that I object to. And you dare say that you haven't read Kant - among the greatest philosopers of all time! Kant's life work was precisely to discover and identify what it is which makes for the method of rational enquery - and the verdict (by subsequent philosophers) is that he failed in his effort. It seems to me that your usage of Rational Enquiry constitutes Original Research on your part, perhaps supported by Quinton, and maybe others. It is not, however, in my vast readings, supported by the history of philosophy since Kant's day - and the vast majority of subsequent philosophers. Why do you think Schopenhauer made "will", rather than "reason" his central concept? It is because he appreciated Kant's failure. And why do you think Hegel picked dialectic and the history of philosophy as central to his system? Hegel's Reason is dynamic and full of contradictions - for which he's rejected by Anglo-American philosophers. Hegel effectively tried to make Unreason a part of philosophy - that was his way of solving Kant's disaster (as other's came to see it). Your sense of Rationality, as I understand you, is what the 19th century philosophers were concerned with. And in England it was a matter of utility and utilitarianism (Bentham, Mill, etc.) --Ludvikus 16:34, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
I didn't say I hadn't read Kant. Where did I say that? I was taught by Prof. Stefan Korner, from Czechoslavakia, who was one of the leading English authorities on Kant in his day. The rest of what you say is the usual nonsense. Dbuckner 16:50, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Hegel? "The real is the rational and the rational is the real". Philosophy of Right. The function of the dialectic in Hegel is to resolve the contradictions of understanding into a coherent system. That he consciously preserves the contradictions as contradictions is a novel POV, and would require a citation. This, precisely, was Kierkegaard's complaint about Hegel - that subjective experience could not be contained within such a system. But no, Kierkegaard is not irrational either. KD Tries Again 17:42, 9 February 2007 (UTC)KD
Well that settles it then. Doubles all round. Dbuckner 19:10, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Reading Kant

Dbuckner: You almost tempt me to try to read Kant, but I have papers to write in my own area, and so I have to rely on secondary sources when it comes to Kant. Are you saying that what the secondary sources say about Kant is incorrect? If so, I have given you direct quotes from Carlyle illustrating the kind of thing I'm talking about.

I hope we are clear on my own personal view of the subject, even though that has nothing what-so-ever to do with writing this article. I think philosophers ought to rely only on the method of reason, but don't. Rick Norwood 15:26, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't know what the secondary sources say about Kant until you give me some. As for the Carlyle, I've already commented on that. It does not prove what you require. Dbuckner 15:51, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

It is rich of you, by the way, to follow up "Kant (but not all philosophers) began with reason", with "You almost tempt me to try to read Kant". Dbuckner 15:54, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't know why, but I find I have little to no patience with all this bad Kant. Kant posited "God" as a regulative idea of Pure Reason, not as an irrational or a-rational or non-rational entity or a "notion". I'd like to move on, because I don't know how to discuss it further if people don't know the texts well enough. We may not be here to do philosophy, but we're surely not here to teach it either. KD Tries Again 16:03, 9 February 2007 (UTC)KD
And here's a supporting cite, lest I be accused of OR.[1] As you'll see, (section 6. especially) - and you can check any Kant textbook too - God, the world and the soul are ideas of reason - they are rationally, not empirically, derived constructs.KD Tries Again 16:18, 9 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Moving (not so swiftly) forward

I have modified the introduction, not too much. If you look at the diff, you see the change is the 'some, others, still others' bit. This was like saying that some people say the Prime Minister is called Tony, others say he is called Blair. I have changed it so that it reflects the majority opinion that the method of philosophy involves giving reasons for things, but that the real disagreement is about the subject matter. I have left in the bit about "Still others argue that philosophy is continuous with the best practices in every intellectual field." even though I don't understand it (well I do, but the reader who is new to the subject will not). However, Ben wanted it in, and it is important we proceed by consensus.

I removed a bit that someone put in without giving reasons on the Talk Page. It seemed out of place in a brief introduction.Dbuckner 09:09, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I haven't put in citations yet. But the bit 'any definition is bound to be controversial' is more or less a direct quote from Russell. Dbuckner 09:11, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Here also is a quote from Russell (history of Western philosophy) which is worth thinking about:

"'Philosophy' is a word which has been used in many ways, some wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense, which I will now try to explain. Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition, or that of revelation. All definite knowledge – so I should contend – belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy". Dbuckner 13:09, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I've tried to keep most of what you wrote, but moderate your claims to keep them within the bounds of reason.

I like your Russell quote.

By the bye, I still prefer the large size for the picture. Anybody else have thoughts on that subject? Large pictures at the heads of articles are common in Wikipedia. Rick Norwood 14:19, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

On the positive side, I agree with you about the picture, and I think your edits on the 'Eastern' side were an improvement. Dbuckner 14:38, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
I really prefer the small size of the picture: I found the large one obnoxious, but thats not my main concern. I hope the productive/collaborative trend can continue.
Question for you, Rick: you said DBuckner wants to define Philosophy his way, not the way Philosophyis. This article is in need of an expert. DBuckner is an expert, as are several others, who are having great difficulty making contributions to this article. If DBuckner has limitations, he openly qualifies them. I, as a Wiki editor with the same "equal rights" as you, want to know, in good faith, what are your qualifications and limitations? I can tell you have a background in philosophy, but this article needs to make prgress, and in Wiki policy, a field expert is considered qualified at a higher level. What are your qualifications? You seem to make changes so you can have things your way. Notice, I am not making any changes to the article, although by right, I could. Richiar 15:10, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

The "Any definition of philosophy" paragraph is mostly a summary of this page and not very useful. It really has to go. I agree with the comment that the "continuous with..." line is too opaque for the 3rd paragraph of the entry. The whole debate should be moved much further down. Until they know what it is, how can they appreciate how opinions on it vary? I think the whole paragraph needs to be scrapped. It only serves to appease the editors here. What's a useful lede for someone who needs to turn to an encyclopedia in order to find out what phil. is about? JJL 16:06, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Richiar: my Ph.D. is in mathematics, and I spend most of my editing time on articles such as Calculus and History of Mathematics. I've read a lot of philosophy, but I don't have a degree in the area. I assume Dbuckner does. I first began making a few small edits on this article because the introduction at that time claimed that 1) all philosophers agree that the method of philosophy is rational discourse and 2) all philosophers are in the European tradition. Replace the word "all" by the word "most" and I don't have any problems. Dbuckner seems to insist on "all". Rick Norwood 16:15, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for that! My expertise is therapist. I try to get people to stop fighting and make progress. Half the time it doesn't go anywhere but to the courtroom these days. Richiar 17:23, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Norwood's edit

Rick Norwood makes the following edit here

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy&action=history

with the comment "Here we go again! Dbuckner describes what he wishes philosophy was rather than what it is." No Rick, I am not describing philosophy as I would wish it to be. My edit was a combination of the views of others: a quote from Russell (originally suggested by Ben Nelson), with a sentence contributed by the distinguished Oxford philosopher Peter King, on our talk page, with another taken from another philosopher, KD, also on this page.

By contrast, Norwood's edit is as follows:

Many distinguish philosophy from mysticism or religion because of its historic reliance on rational discourse, but some, notably Immanual Kant have claimed that there are limits to reason, while others, such as William Blake doubt the efficacy of reason.

This is inaccurate. The word 'but' incorrectly suggests that Kant's view that there are limits to reason (he is not the only philosopher to argue this) somehow contrasts or is inconsistent with the distinction from mysticism or religion. Note the spelling of Immanuel's first name, Rick. And William Blake is not commonly held to be a philosopher. So I am reverting, and I will continue to revert unless you can provide edits that are verifiable. Dbuckner 14:28, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Here, in fact, is the diff for King's contribution. He wrote: "As well as being general and abstract, philosophy is rational and rigorous. Its enquiries are, unlike those of astrology, religion, "critical theory", etc., wedded to reason, making no unexamined assumptions, no leaps based purely on analogy, revelation, authority, etc." That was the sentence you just deleted, Rick. Peter is the author of a book on the history of philosophy (100 philosophers), and is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Oxford.

So it is quite unfair of you to say that this is philosophy as I would wish to see it. Can you take that remark back, please? Dbuckner 14:33, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm still trying to work with you instead of against you. Thanks for catching my spelling error -- I was misled by the fact that the link worked! I've restored the larger picture.
It may be that, as a mathematician, I take universal quantifiers more seriously than non-mathematicians do.
I like the King quote, but I gather it is from his writing here rather than from his book. Can you come up with a quote that expresses the same idea but is from a published source?

Rick Norwood 16:30, 10 February 2007 (UTC)


Rick, I don’t need to produce yet another quotation. The citations in Definition of philosophy and in Talk:Philosophy/Quotations amply prove this. It is also the view of the philosophers here (yes, I have a higher degree and publications, and so do some of the others). Can I remind you again of WP:OR.

  • If your viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts;
  • If your viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents;
  • "If your viewpoint is held by an extremely small minority, then — whether it's true or not, whether you can prove it or not — it doesn't belong in Wikipedia, except perhaps in some ancillary article. Wikipedia is not the place for original research."

I have satisfied the first criterion. There are many commonly accepted reference texts stating that the method of philosophy is rational enquiry, or something similar. On your claim that this is only a majority view, I am happy to accept that there is a significant minority of philosophers who hold that the method of philosophy is not rational enquiry. But you have yet to produce any citation for this. The quotes from Kant and Carlyle you have misunderstood entirely. Do you want me to take you through (again) why you have misunderstood them? I'm happy to. I used to get paid for teaching philosophy, but quite happy to do it free, just for you!

Do you understand the concept of a 'burden of proof'? I have produced ample evidence of the claims made in the introduction. The burden of proof is now on you to produce ample evidence of your counter-claim.

PS and please do not revert again without citation. That is a violation of WP:OR. Thank you in anticipation! Dbuckner 19:37, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I have offered numerous citations, but you use impeccable logic to revert them. Since all philosophy is always rational, anyone who questions rationality is not, by definition, a philosopher. QED

You misunderstand my request for a "better" quotation. I was not asking for more proof. I was asking for a quotation from a book, preferably without the unencyclopedic "etc".

Rick Norwood 22:51, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Why do we need a quotation from a book? If you have agreed that the content of my edit reflects the content of what Peter says, then that is fine. We don't need the quotation marks around it. As for the "etc" you are free to remove it, but why is it not encyclopedic? It is perfectly good grammar, and the scholastic masters used it all the time ("ergo &c"). But I'm not going to die in a ditch for that one. Dbuckner 08:22, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
On your "Since all philosophy is always rational, anyone who questions rationality is not, by definition, a philosopher.", that is of course not my argument. My argument is that all authoritative citations I have found that mention the method of philosophy, say that it is rational enquiry (or some cognate). WP:OR says we can put that in the article. You are objecting that according to some authorities, the method of philosophy is not rational enquiry. Very well, give us the citations! You make a further objection that you have given citations. You have, but it is not enough to give a citation. The claim you want to put in the article must logically follow from the citation. Dbuckner 12:12, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

I'll fix the "etc." on stylistic grounds.

So, any philosopher who claims to devalue logic must support that cliam logically.

For about the 100th time, it is not enough to devalue logic. The claim must be that the method of philosophy is not rational enquiry. Again and again you keep misunderstanding the claim being made. Dbuckner 17:26, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm looking for the perfect quote. There is one I remember somewhere in Plato, to the effect that the true philosopher is inspired rather than rational, but I can't find it. Maybe you are familiar with it. Rick Norwood 14:22, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

That would do the trick, if you can find the quote. Dbuckner 17:26, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

'Schism' section

I have deleted the schism section, as there was an extensive discussion of the section a while back, and general agreement (apart from the author of the section) that it should be deleted as unencyclopedic and poorly written. Dbuckner 15:02, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I've replaced this. You are drawing up something from way back and it is obvious at that time that this was not decided, and you make a post-facto decision. See also discussion on Analytic page. -- Lucas (Talk) 12:47, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

It certainly was decided. There was a firm majority for deletion. The only reason it was not implemented was the huge disruption caused by Ludvikus, and to a lesser extent by you. So I am reverting back to the consensus version. You have reverted once. If you revert twice more in a 24 hour period, I will take it to 3RV. Please conform to Wikipedia rules. Thanks Dbuckner 13:12, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
This isn't the right place for such a detailed discussion of this split. It seems to me that there's pretty wide agreement on keeping the discussion of it here quite limited and linking to elsewhere. JJL 15:12, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, the section was an embarrassment as drafted, and as said above was way too detailed in any case.KD Tries Again 15:16, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD
The vote you (Dbuckner) refer to of a month ago, did not "certainly decide" the matter. A number supported it, a number opposed, without firm consensus. After this discussion from last month, what was removed was the "Historical notes" section which talked of Analytic and its origins vis-a-vis Marxism. The discussion being from a month ago, is it not strange that you now return to this all of a sudden? And do not tell me it has something to do with a certain editor, the philosophy page was quite stable for some time and had few edits during that month.-- Lucas (Talk) 16:30, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Notable authorities

If I can quote KD on this:

As for the general discussion, there really is no stalemate unless someone can produce not just any authority, but a notable authority to the effect that philosophy is not a rational exercise. And I am not wedded to the word "rational" - I am wedded to the idea that philosophy does need to be distinguished from other disciplines by reference to what is - obviously - its method: the advancement, consideration and acceptance or refutation of arguments. I myself have produced the handful of authorities I can find which would oppose this - Lyotard only in one work (he rejected the position himself), Shestov, and arguably Bataille. Deleuze would place the emphasis a little differently. These are grains of sand on a two thousand year old beach. Footnote them by all means, but do not use them as grounds to argue that Wikipedia must be unique among encyclopaedias in being unable to say what philosophy is. KD Tries Again 17:54, 8 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Obviously if we can locate citations for what these philosophers say, great, those can go in the article, in the appropriate place. Perhaps KD could help us out here. That would be Lev Shestov, Georges Bataille and Jean-François Lyotard. Dbuckner 21:21, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Happy to. Lyotard gave up the attempt after Libidinal Economy, but I did think of another contender: Miguel de Unamuno in Tragic Sense of Life. I will be pleased to provide quotes, as long as this is correctly represented as a minority dissenting view of the subject.

KD Tries Again 15:18, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Message from Franco

I asked Franco for some help on this article, Continental philosophy and Analytic philosophy. He replies

Sempre gli stessi mostri sacri. Managgia la miseria!! Those pages are the primary crank-magnets in all of Wikipedia. They are wonderful for those folks who like being intubated through the penis without an anesthetic and lying in a hospital bed in the mental ward under 11 different erroneous medications with the air-conditioning on maximum 24 hours a day, occasionally pissing and shitting in their pants, unable to pick a spoon to eat, for an entire month (something I actually experienced, BTW). Well, ok, it's not quite that bad. But, it's still a mild form of masochism which might end up causing the described scenario. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 10:04, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Dbuckner 21:25, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

So he is definitely coming back, then. Terrific! Banno 21:34, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
If you look at his trail, you see he is already working on Free will and Philosophy of mind. I doubt, from his remarks above, that he can be tempted to work on this article, however. Dbuckner 12:14, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't know, Dbuckner. His remarks make it sound like having a slight sniffle or an itchy elbow, for those of us who ever did a tour of duty at Talk:Physics/wip. (The horror... .) –Noetica 12:36, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

Analytic / continental schism

Lucas is contesting my delete of the infamous 'schism' section. At the time, there was overall agreement to delete, with a small minority favouring a rewrite. For the record, I believe that something should go in. However, the current section is just so awful and rambling I would like to see it all go. Any rewrite should reflect the fact that this article is dealing with several millenia of history across many different schools of philosophy. I think there should be one section on analytic philosophy, in a summary form + link to the Analytic philosophy page. Similarly for Continental philosophy. There is probably room for a brief mention of the schism, but please, let the sub-articles take the burden of any detailed treatment. If people feel the schism deserves a sub-article of its own, then let any detailed treatment go there. This article should be no more than a roadmap to the relevant sub-articles, I am desperately trying to keep personal essays, original research and anything else out of here. Thanks! Dbuckner 13:20, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

I think its been established that Lucas is a malicious troll. See my comments at Talk: Being and Time-"Messin up the (read My) page". As far as I'm concerned, you have the support of the community to proceed, and standard troll interventions should apply to Lucas. Richiar 17:09, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
If any action is taken against Lucas, I imagine that he will protest that some sort of analytical philosophy "mob" is shutting down his minority viewpoint (supposedly, that of "Continental Philosophy"). But let me re-emphasize, as KD and Mtevfrog have done before, that those of us trained in Continental philosophy recognize his "contributions" to the philosophy articles on Wikipedia are at best tendentious and ignorant OR, and at worst incorrigible trolling. 271828182 18:53, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes. In the past, it has been easy to achieve a community consensus to delete his stand-alone articles which reflect his obsession. He is now trying to protect his material (mixed with bits of Ludvikus's) as a section here.KD Tries Again 15:21, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD

John Passmore

He says in A Hundred Years of Philosophy (1957/1968), p. 467:

    The fact we have to live with, then, is that if most British philosophers are convinced
  that Continental metaphysics is arbitrary, pretentious and mind-destroying, Continental
  philosophers are no less confident that British empiricism is philistine, pedestrian and
  soul-destroying.

Yours truly, --Ludvikus 15:50, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

He also says, ibid., p. 466:

  ...bring into sharper focus that fundamental opposition between British and Latin-Teutonic
  philosophy on which I have several times insisted, but in somewhat general terms.1
  [the substantial footnote1 is on pages 600-1]

Yours truly, --Ludvikus 16:02, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

Your comments seem noncontributory and irrelevant to the discussion, and perseverative.Richiar 17:14, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
I think everyone is agreed there is potential to develop some material somewhere in the encyclopedia. The question is how much detail there should be here. The view seems to be: not much. The logical place for any detailed treatment would be one or both of Analytic philosophy and Continental philosophy. Dbuckner 17:32, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
I will locate Passmore to see what he says. Dbuckner 17:34, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

I'll remind you all of your duty here, and that is to be impartial and, dare I say it, rational. This is a major issue in philosophy today and attempts at suppression are futile, it will only come back to haunt you. I have already seen sweeping attempts by the usual suspects to pretend there is no such division, or suggest that it is too difficult and therefore should be suppressed. But all of such attempts are inconsistent and usual betray themselves very quickly in any discussions on the matter. The distinction is reasonably clear and a well sourced unbiased report of it is not that hard. The section is probably the best sourced section there. It is also one that covers a live issue and is not just a boring re-hash of some historical area. Let me remind you again of the quote from Babich on this:

there is a difference between analytic and continental approaches to philosophy not only because it is obvious and not only because as a professor of philosophy I live on the terms of a profession dominated by this noisome distinction but because the claim that there is no such distinctive divide is politically manipulative.[

Now think about this political manipulation, is it really in your interest in an open society where philosophy is not just that which is sanctioned by certain political or religious interests, and are these interests the same as your own? I don't think so -- Lucas (Talk) 03:03, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Noncontributory remarks. Will disregard. Richiar 07:30, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Reason and Rationality - again

The majority view, as expressed by Dbuckner, and his supporters here, that the Method of Philosophy is characterized by Rationality, or related cognates, is either Original Research, or merely One Philosophical View. Consider John Passmore's (100 Years of Philosophy), discussion of Karl Jaspers, p. 475:

  The Understanding, i.e., what in English is called 'rational thinking', is condemned
  by Jaspers as 'nihilistic' because it separates, distinguishes. 'Reason,' in contrast, unifies.
  It forbids us to rest content with that merely specific knowledge to which science is limited;
  it gives us confidence that we shall in the end arrive at 'the attitude of transcendence',
  at a concept of the world-as-a-whole. In what Jaspers says of Reason - that it is, for example,
  'the existential absolute which serves to actualize the primary source and bring it to the instant
  manifestation' - he most conspicuously passes beyond the comprehension of empirically-minded
  philosophers. They are unlikely to be convinced that Jaspers' 'Reason', with its search for
  'fulfilled, conquered non-knowledge' is anything but irrationality in a very thin disguise.
  [Boldface emphasis added]

Yours truly, --Ludvikus 17:48, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

User:Banno! You said we are not supposed to do philosophy here - we are encyclopedists, we are to describe it as it is. Accordingly, I expect you to support the position that describing philosophy as rational enquiry, in light of the above quote, is Original Research, and that the Minority View is correct - drop that loaded word as characterizing the method of philosophy. --Ludvikus 17:56, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Like Norwood's Procrustean take on Kant above, this is a captious reading motivated solely to adduce published support for your view. Jaspers, like Kant, is arguing that Vernunft (Reason) is philosophy's ultimate court of appeal, and that this notion surpasses the narrower notion of Verstand (the understanding or intellect). Passmore points out that Jaspers's notion of reason would likely be seen as metaphysically too robust for analytic philosophers' tastes. But Jaspers clearly wants philosophy to be a rational inquiry! Why else does Jaspers use the term "reason"? 271828182 19:03, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
I assume you do not have the benefit of Passmore's wonderful 640 page pocketbook in your hand, as I do - so you misread Passmore. In fact, Passmore says that Jaspers attacks the German "Understanting", which in English Passmore renders as "rational thinking". But the basis of that attack, says Passmore, is Jaspers' "Reason". And this Reason of Jasper's, says Passmore's, cannot be distinguished - by "empirically-minded" philospers (Anglo-American philosophers?) from "irrationality" - except by the narrowest of margins. Accordingly, since we are not in a position to call Jaspers Irrational (as neither are you) - we cannot create our own, private, original, Wikipedian, sense or Reason, or Rationality, as characterizing philosophy. It appears that these cognates - Reason, or Rationality, etc. - are very well entrenched among Wikipedians who visit the Philosophy page. However, that is not the case as it exists in the philosophy literature. You cannot reinterpret what Passmore says to suit your own metaphor - that there exists an "ultimate court of appeal" - Rationality/Reason. Nice metaphor - and I'm glad it makes you happy. But it does not make published or academic philosophers so - especially on the Continent. --Ludvikus 20:19, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
In what way is the quotation from Passmore about philosophical method? Dbuckner 22:54, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
In what way is it not? --Ludvikus 23:03, 11 February 2007 (UTC)


Let me show how. Ludvikus's assumption that I don't have Passmore in front of me, like almost everything he contributes here, is wildly incorrect. Let me quote the first sentence of Passmore's paragraph, which he conveniently omits:
"In his Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time ... Jaspers went so far as to declare, in reaction against Sartre, that his own philosophy should be called a 'philosophy of reason' rather than an 'existentialism'."
Indeed, I do not want to reinterpret anything to suit my position (or my "metaphor", whatever that means). Jaspers himself calls his philosophy a philosophy of reason. That's the published record. Passmore, by contrast, is here speculating about a negative evaluation that a vague, unspecified group of "empirically-minded philosophers" might make. In any event, nothing in this passage shows a published source arguing that philosophy should not be defined as a rational enquiry, which is the putative point under discussion. (But this discussion is instructive as yet another example of Ludvikus's conspicuous inability to be anything but an obstacle to the improvement of this article.) 271828182 23:09, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Point in favor of DB and "27". Ludvikus zero. Richiar 23:57, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes indeed, and this is getting very repetitive. Many philosophers have attacked notions of what is rational which they find limiting, misguided or even threatening. Jaspers, Heidegger, Horkheimer and Adorno, Derrida - it's a long list. However, as I said weeks back, in almost every case, the attack is intended to clear the ground for a clarification or improvement of our grasp of what reason or rationality is.KD Tries Again 15:33, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Ten Textbook Definitions of Philosophy

I have pulled out the first ten of the intro to philosophy textbooks I found cluttering my garage, and looked at their definitions of philosophy. Please note that I have not selectively taken only those texts I agree with; they are an arbitrary sample of ten current introductory textbooks in the field, all written by current or former professors of philosophy. (All emphases in the originals.)


  • From Ed. L. Miller and Jon Jensen, Questions that Matter: An Invitation to Philosophy, 5th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2004), p. 16:
"Perhaps, finally, we may pose a working definition of philosophy, one that does some justice to what we have seen to be both its theme and its variations: Philosophy is that attempt to think rationally and critically about the most important questions."


  • From Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn, Doing Philosophy: An Introduction through Thought Experiments, 3rd ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2006), p. 25, 27:
"We all have a philosophy, for we all have beliefs about what is real, what is valuable, and how we come to know what is real and valuable. ... The goal of philosophical inquiry is to determine whether these views are viable. ... To arrive at the truth, we have to reason correctly. Philosophers have always appreciated that fact and have made the study of correct reasoning -- logic -- one of their central concerns."


  • From Mark Woodhouse, A Preface to Philosophy, 8th ed. (Wadsworth, 2006), p. 2:
"Philosophical problems involve questions about the meaning, truth, and logical connections of fundamental ideas that resist solution by the empirical sciences. We might add '...or by appeal to religious authority,' too, but will reserve [that] discussion ... for the next chapter." (In the subsequent chapter, Woodhouse makes the case for adding that clause.)


  • From William Lawhead, The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach, 3rd ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2006), pp. 7-8:
"If we summarize the discussion thus far, we have a multidimensional, working definition of philosophy. ... Philosophy is the
1. Search for self-understanding.
2. Love and pursuit of wisdom.
3. Asking of questions about the meaning of our basic concepts.
4. Search for fundamental beliefs that are rationally justified."


  • From Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert (eds.), Philosophical Horizons: Introductory Readings (Wadsworth, 2006), p. 1:
"All scholars must engage in reasoning, but it is the mainstay of work in philosophy. A brief but quite accurate description of philosophical method is that we do not observe or experiment, we construct chains of reasoning. Because of its central role in their discipline, philosophers have tried to make their reasoning explicit and to discover the principles underlying good reasoning."


  • From Thomas Nagel, What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy (OUP, 1987), p. 4:
"Philosophy is different from science and from mathematics. Unlike science it doesn't rely on experiments or observation, but only on thought. And unlike mathematics it has no formal methods of proof. It is done just by asking questions, arguing, trying out ideas and thinking of possible arguments against them, and wondering how our concepts really work."


  • From Nils Ch. Rauhut, Ultimate Questions: Thinking about Philosophy, 2nd ed. (Pearson, 2007), p. 3:
"In a broad sense, philosophy can therefore be understood as the attempt to develop a 'big picture' view of the universe with the help of reason."


  • From Monroe Beardsley and Elizabeth Lane Beardsley, "What Is Philosophy?", in Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology, 2nd ed. (OUP, 2005), p. 3:
"Philosophical questions grow out of a kind of thinking that is familiar to all of us: the thinking that we do when we ask ourselves whether something that we believe is reasonable to believe. 'Reasonable' has a broad, but definite, meaning here: a reasonable belief is simply a belief for which a good reason can be given. Reasonable beliefs are logically justifiable."


  • From Louis Pojman, Philosophy: The Pursuit of Wisdom, 5th ed. (Wadsworth, 2006), p. 9:
"Thus, philosophy is a practice of giving reasons in support of one's beliefs and actions. Its ultimate goal is to arrive at a rationally justified position on one's beliefs about the important issues in life, including what is the best way to live one's life and organize society. Philosophy consists in the rational examination of worldviews, metaphysical theories, ethical systems, and even the limits of reason."


  • From Nigel Warburton, Philosophy: The Basics, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 1995), pp. 1-2:
"Philosophy is an activity: it is a way of thinking about certain sorts of question. Its most distinctive feature is its use of logical argument. Philosophers typically deal in arguments: they either invent them, criticise other people's, or do both. They also analyse and clarify concepts. ... They often examine beliefs that most of us take for granted most of the time. They are concerned with questions about what could loosely be called 'the meaning of life': questions about religion, right and wrong, politics, the nature of the external world, the mind, science, art, and numerous other topics. ... These are philosophical questions."

That would be, by the by, ten for ten on the importance of rationality to philosophy. 271828182 01:13, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, this is helpful and quite convincing. Reason(ed|able|ing), logic(al), or ration(al) appears to be an important and defining element of (Western) philosophy. I note in passing that most of these deprecate the etymology when defining the word, as has been previously suggested. Here's another (from the perface, explaining the lack of an entry on phil. itself):
  • From Robert Audi (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, (Cambridge University Press, 1995), pg. xxv
"...philosophy is roughly the critical, normally systematic, study of an unlimited range of ideas and issues..."
Critical and argument seem also to be ways of phrasing the fundamental idea here. In fairness, the textbook for the freshman-level epistemology and metaphysics course I took many years ago (John Hospers, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 2nd ed., (Prentice-Hall, 1967), pg. v and pg. 1) immediately states that defining phil. is too hard to attempt until one has studied enough phil. to understand the issues and so declines to do so. I find this approach defeatist! JJL 04:41, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
I appreciate very much your wonderful contribution - the Ten [random] Text books. Besides myself, I find your work here very relevant to the issue; the problem is its interpretation. A dispassionate evaluation (if only that were only possible) shows that "logic", "thought," and other concepts occur where our Wiki editors would have liked Reason and Rationality. I also note that your "garage" holding probably reflect "textbooks" in the Anglo-American, or Analytic tradition. A careful examination of your 10 sources does not prove the point you claim - quite the opposite. I do not understand why you are against a more "modest" approach. Yes, philosophers do not engage in experiments. But to maintain that these two - historically important - words, "Reason" and "Rationality", are intrinsic to any encyclopedic definition/characterization of philosophy, is simply not true by the very examples you have picked. Furthermore, these words are not neutral, but loaded philosophical technical words. They immediately bring to mind Descartes, the other Rationalists, Kant, his successors - and the general fact that philosophy has evolved in such a way that neither Descartes "Rationality", or Kant's "Reason", have solved the problem of Philosophy.
Why not say that Philosophy is an enquery into language? Or that it's a Linguistic Enquiry? At least then it would reflect the Linguistic Turn which philosophy has taken within the Analytic School as most likely reflected in your "garage" library? Don't you all agree that "Language/Linguistic Enquery" is more accurate than Reason/Rationality? Or do you all believe that philosophy has not changed much since the days of Descartes and Kant? --Ludvikus 17:28, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Ludvikus wrote: "A careful examination of your 10 sources does not prove the point you claim - quite the opposite." Okay, you are basically saying that night is day here. Every one of the passages presented included "reason", "rational", "logical", or some cognate thereof. Your attempt to tie "reason" to "rationalism" (like your closing question) is a blatant strawman. And your (predictable) excuse that textbooks likely reflect the analytic tradition only is a convenient out that makes your position unfalsifiable (unless I start acquiring textbooks from France, I suppose). You are, again, demonstrating that you are either unable or unwilling to engage in rational discussion. Good-bye and please stop harming Wikipedia. 271828182 21:10, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Sanger's call for contributions

Perhaps timely to mention this call for contributors from Larry Sanger, via the PHILOS mailing list.

User:Dbuckner/Sanger's_call_for_contributions

I'm not a fan of 'credentialism' – I've seen more articles ruined by plain bad writing than lack of expert credentials. On the other hand, if there are a significant number of defections from here then I see no point continuing. Everyone can see the problems caused by the attitude that trolls should to be tolerated and that if you react badly to them, it is somehow your own fault. Let's see. Dbuckner 08:26, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Thus spake...

I hesitate to edit because it is not really my area of expertise, but should this introductory article really devote almost ten times as much space to Zarathustra as to the Greeks? It seems to me a shorter section, with a link to the main articles, would be more appropriate. Rick Norwood 13:47, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Since when, by the way, has hesitation about your area of expertise ever stopped you from editing this article, Rick? Dbuckner 14:39, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

As a postscript to the remark above, I note that the philosophy of Jesus (non-violence, gather not your riches on this Earth) is not mentioned in the article. Is the influence of Jesus, as a philosopher, less than that of Zarathustra? I'm not pushing an agenda, here, just looking for balance. Rick Norwood 13:57, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Well, indeed the author of this article argues that Jesus was a philosopher. He defines philosophy as follows. "The essential condition of being a philosopher is to be a strong and lived-out inclination to pursue truth about philosophical matters through the rigorous use of human reasoning. By ‘philosophical matters’ I mean the enduring questions of life’s meaning, purpose, and value as they relate to all the major divisions of philosophy (primarily epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics).” He argues that Jesus satisfies this criterion through his use of logical techniques such as appealing to evidence, use of " reductio and [sic] absurdum philosophical arguments", and the fact that both Thomas Jefferson and George Bush said he was a philosopher. There you go. Of course, Rick, you don't agree with that definition of philosopher so perhaps Jesus should not go in after all. Dbuckner 14:37, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

I have always refrained from editing outside my knowledge -- and I do not know a great deal about Zarathustra. Also, I like the quote above about Jesus, and would like to see it in the article. I may add it. Have you any objection?

As you know, I have always agreed that many philosophers believe that rational discourse is the method of philosophy. My only objection is to your claim that all philosophers believe that rational discourse is the method of philosophy. Rick Norwood 13:43, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Plato

I have not yet found the exact quote I was looking for, but I did find this at http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/2h.htm#line.

"Finally, at the highest level of all, are the more significant Forms—true Equality, Beauty, Truth, and of course the Good itself. These permanent objects of knowledge are directly apprehended by intuition (Gk. nohsiV [nóêsis]), the fundamental capacity of human reason to comprehend the true nature of reality."

Now, this is a use of the word "reason" that is similar to Carlyle's use of "reason" when he says that reason directly apprehends the existance of God. I think Kant says something similar, but I'm relying on secondary sources.

That isn't at all what I mean by "reason", and I don't think it is what Dbuckner's many quotes from philosophy texts mean by reason. To me, the modern meaning of reason is something similar to "logic", while this use seems to use reason to mean a "higher" power of the human mind to arrive at truth by "intuition".

Dbuckner, you did offer to help me out on this. In the introduction, what does the word "reason" mean in the phrase "wedded to reason". Does it mean "logic"? Does it mean "intiution"? (The Latin root means the ability to compute!) Rick Norwood 14:41, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

OK. There is certainly a connection between 'reason' and 'logic', because 'reason' derives from the Latin 'ratio', which is similar to the Greek word 'logos' from which we get 'logic'. I'm not an expert on Greek. On the Latin 'ratio', this is famously a difficult word to translate into English. It can mean simply 'compute', but has a closer connection to 'account', as in, give a full account of something. It means a 'reason' as in 'giving a reason' for something, and can also mean 'nature' as in the fundamental nature of anything. I believe there are similar connotations to 'logos' in Greek. On Plato, well of course Plato was a kind of rationalist, with some strange views. He derived from Parmenides (the first Rationalist) the idea that the only real things are eternal and unchanging, namely the 'Forms'. He had the odd idea that our knowledge of the Forms is innate, but we forget what is there, and can only 'remember' what is there by the use of deductive reasoning. I.e. reasoning is a process of remembering or recovering what is already there. That makes Plato peculiar, but in essence he is a extreme rationalist. Dbuckner 15:33, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
PS I'm sure the others will correct me if I'm wrong - Plato is one of those philosophers I simply cannot abide. I'll put him up there with Hegel and Shakespeare as very famous and important writers whose work I approach with distaste and loathing. Dbuckner 15:33, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
PPS You might find this link about 'logos' helpful. In the hands of the neo-Platonists the idea of logos becomes very important in synthesising the Judaic and Platonic traditions. That is what John is talking about when he says that God is 'the word'. I.e. God provides a divine light of reason which permeates the world. All very mystical and rationalist at the same time. Dbuckner 15:40, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
I would like to help, but I just don't see Rick's point. Plato's works that survive all proceed, in their philosophical passages, by means of reasoned argument. If Socrates has any other method to lead his listeners to contemplation of the forms other than reasoned dialogue, I have missed it. Incidentally, with apologies to Dbuckner, I don't recognize that account of Paermenides either! - not that it matters. Yes, Plato is an ultra-rationalist.KD Tries Again 15:45, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD
Sorry, he got from Parmenides the idea that the real is eternal and unchanging. The idea of the 'Forms' is of course Plato's own. I wrote the sentence in a way that was begging to be misparsed. Does that make more sense? Dbuckner 15:49, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
On the Socratic method, yes, it is all reasoned dialogue. But Plato / Socrates think of this dialogue is uncovering something that was already there, whereas it is natural for us to think of argument as getting us to a place we had never been. Plato's take on reasoning is quite peculiar, in other words. But, yes, it's reasoning he is talking about, once you strip away the mysticism. Dbuckner 15:51, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, a recovery of innate knowledge, I agree. I would be worried if the Plato's method for recovering the knowledge was sitting cross-legged and humming, but it seems to be just good old argument.KD Tries Again 15:54, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Dbuckner: Thanks for the explanation, but ...

My dictionary gives two definitions of "reason". On the one hand, it can mean all forms of thinking. On the other hand, it can mean logical thinking. Which definition is intended in the phrase in the intro "wedded to reason"?

KD Tries Again: The early dialogs of Plato stress reason and the Socratic method. The later dialogs seem (to me) to go all mystical.

Back to Dbucker: Plato is delightful, even though he was wrong about everything. Shakespeare is delightful and usually right (except when flattering the beautiful people). We can agree about Hagel. Rick Norwood 20:49, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Norwood wrote: "The later dialogs seem (to me) to go all mystical." Say what? Like the Parmenides and the Statesman? Will people on this page please stop pontificating about books that they clearly have not read? 271828182 21:13, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

I have not read all of Plato, but I have read about half of the dialogs. I call them like I see them. By "all mystical", I mean, for example, the analogy of The Cave, which led to the whole Middle Ages debate about nominalism vs. realism. In the early dialogs, Socrates mentions that the reason he is called the wisest man (by the Oracle) is that he knows what he does not know. By the time of The Republic, Plato has Socrates claim to know a whole lot, most of it wrong. Rick Norwood 22:58, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Persistent misreading of Kant dogs this page

I thought I cleared this up last week, with a citation to an article which explains the whole matter in detail. With all due respect to Rick, he's said that he hasn't read Kant; I don't know if he's read books about Kant; but I'd ask him please not to hold up the page with what appears to be a second or third hand misinterpretation.

I can't teach the first Critique here, but in brief: Kant used two distinct technical terms - "understanding" and "reason" ("pure reason" is another term, with a specific historical connotation). In the Transcendental Dialectic, Kant is not showing the boundaries to the use of reason. Not at all. He is showing the boundaries to the use of understanding, which is quite different. In fact, he asserts that reason inevitably transgresses the boundaries of understanding, resulting in a series of irresolvable antinomies. Nevertheless, some of reason's speculations - e.g. the existence of God and the existence of the (external) world - serve as important regulatory ideas for the understanding. Not only is this a position of some subtlety (whether it's right or wrong), it also confirms that Kant rigorously confines philosophical discourse within the limits of our possible knowledge, our possible understanding: the diametric opposite of Rick's contention. As it happens, the wiki article on Kant is quite good on this.

I would ask Rick, in the interests of productive editing, not to persist with this example unless he can amaze me with some citation which shows that I am in error. Thanks. KD Tries Again 15:12, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD

It's clear (at least to me) that the above shows that at least you have an understand of Kant as it pertains to the notions of Understanding and Reason within his Critique. But what I would like to know is how you view what happened to these notions in the hands of his successors. It is true that there were Kantians well into the 20th century. But generally, the Critique of Pure Reason is a major moment in the history of philosophy. Or is it that most of the editors here are all - by chance - Neo-Kantians? If so, are they imposing Neo-Kantianism upon this page?
We all know what philosophers today still do. Their writings are easily available to us (at least to those who have their texts readily at hand). But to describe philosophy with a word which inevitably brings to mind Kant is a mistake. To say of physics that Relativity characterizes it is accurate; but to say of philosophy that Reason, or Rationality, characterizes it is misleading and a-historical. And I find it ironic that this poisition is taken by those here who are versed in the Empiriscist tradition! Why not say that philosophy is an Empirical Enquiry? Didn't the British Empricists (and their successors, the British Utilitarians, American Pragmatists) oppose Rationalism? Why not say that Philosophy is an Empirical Enquiry? Or a Pragmatic Enquiry? Why are the majority of the editors herein (so it seems to me) so blind to the History of Philosophy? --Ludvikus 17:52, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
I am afraid you are confusing the adjective "rational" with a specific school of philosophy known as "Rationalism". Descartes, for example, was a Rationalist, but I suspect he was no stranger to empirical observation. He was also rational, as was the Empiricist Hume. KD Tries Again 21:00, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD
I believe this has been explained. Many times. Dbuckner 21:03, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
That's precisely what I find so bizarre - that you guys distinguish "rational" (the "adjective") from "Rationalism" as used to designate the "school". Isn't that your guys Original Research? Why not let me also do the same with Empiricism and Pragmatism: philosophy is guided by "empirical" or "pragmatic" enquiries? You guys are confusing these "adjectives" with the philosophical schools of Empiricism and Pragmatism. No. The view that Rationalism is profoundly, or significantly, or fundamentally, or whatever, unrelated to the adjective, "rational", is a bizarre theory that's unsupported - except by your personal opinions. --Ludvikus 00:06, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
This fellow is joking, right? Otherwise, it's frightening stuff. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:13, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
This comment is noted to be malicious perseveration. Richiar 00:56, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

KD Tries Again: I will, on your authority, drop Kant from my list of philosophers who think philosophy can discover things that pure reason cannot. (I'm using reason to mean logic, rather than intuition, here.) The books I've read about Kant include Durant's popularization, The Story of Philosophy, something by Chesterton, whose title I forget, the mathematical factoid that Kant said that the mind of man cannot conceive of any geometry other than Euclian (8 years before the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry), and the essays in Critique of Impure Reason. Not much, in short, and I yield to your authority on the subject. Rick Norwood 23:04, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

The Analytic Tradition

I wonder if any editor has pride of authorship here? There are numerous errors, but I won't correct them if someone is going to revert to the current draft without discussion.

1. What are "Anglo- nations"; I don't recognize or understand this term. 2. Any evidence that Hegel relief to a notable extent on neologisms? (caution: neologism in German is a bit different from neologism in English). 3. It is a significant error to say that Wittgenstein thought of philosophical problems as "puzzles of language" when he wrote the Tractatus - on the contrary, he thought they were real problems and that the Tractatus solved them. The notion of "puzzles" comes later. 4. His P.I. was a "second major work" only in a strained sense, as it was edited and published posthumously. Its publication came several years after Ryle and Austin had developed their positions (Concept of Mind predates P.I.), so it can hardly have encouraged them. 5. The third paragraph, if it means anything, seems to identify Einstein, Freud, Bakhtin and others as sharing some methodological precepts with ordinary language philosophers - either OR or twaddle or (probably) both. 6. Why is Bakhtin described as "continental"? Yes, Russia's in Asia, just as England is in Europe, but "continental" usually means something other than Russian in a philosophical context. 7. The last paragraph is an odd soup of quite distinct movements. Generally, the suggestion that everything came out of the P.I. is a misrepresentation of recent philosophical history.

Can changes be made, or is an editor going to defend this to the death?KD Tries Again 16:15, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Comment above noted: see below. Richiar 17:18, 12 February 2007 (UTC)


Proposal for Quality Management process

In the interests of the community of editors, in the interests of retaining quality-high quality editors, and in the interests of having a high quality article here, and Philosophy project, I have taken some initiative and attempted to devise a "quality managemet tool"; I have completed the prototype.

I would be willing to act in the behalf of the other editors here as a "quality monitor", so to speak. I would open a "Quality Management" subpage for this article, and "host it".

To protect and preserve the edits of quality editors, the monitor thing would always be on and maintained.

Shall I proceed? Richiar 17:18, 12 February 2007 (UTC)


Comment on Lukvikus

The comments by Lukvikus at (17:52) seem digressive with incorrigible perseveration, there seems to be veiled hostile insinuation, the questions he raises have been exhaustively addressed already and I feel do not warrant further comment. Richiar 20:09, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Oops. KD Tries Again 21:00, 12 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Anthony Flew on Rationality

Flew's A Dictionary of Philosophy (pp. 277-8) says:

  Rational.
  1. Opposed to irrational.
  2. Opposed to non-rational or arational.
  Those who have spoken of man as the rational animal have of course been employing the word
  in the second sense, meaning capable of either rationality or irrationality, not trying to
  make it true by *definition that everyone in fact achieves the one rather than the other.

Dismissing the irrational is easy. But what about the non-rational, or the arational in philosophy in general (not just the Analytic school)? Yours truly, --Ludvikus 01:08, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

So neither Kant, nor any other subsequent World-class philosopher ever recognized a non-rational, or an arrational, realm within Philosophy - according to Wikipedia? --Ludvikus 01:15, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Pertinently, in the preface of that same volume, Flew says "...Philosophy, as we understand it, is characteristically argumentative and essentially directed towards the determination of what logical relations do and do not hold..." Banno 08:40, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Thank you, User:Banno. You are discussing his 21-page Preface. Notice his distinction of the two senses of the term Philosophy, the sense of "My philosophy is ..." and the other sense, whose "preliminary answer might be that given by a distinguished well-loved Cambridge professor": G. E. Moore, whose "preferred response ... was to gesture towards his bookselves: 'It is what these are about'" So for him philosophy is what philosophy texts are about. However, our 27 Wikipedia editors (according to one editor's count) are much more clever, and less modest, than Flew or Moore - they have found that the "method" of Philosophy is "rational enquiry." Also, Banno, notice that when Flew does use the word "rational" he says the following:
  Again, if the findings of the psychological and social sciences really do show that there is
  no room for choice and for responsibility, then the rational man has somehow to jettison either
  these ideas or those of the human sciences.

That is the ending of the paragraph you quoted from. The full sentence which opens this paragraph is conditional, and the next sentence, are as follows:

       Because philosophy, as we understand it, is characteristically argumentative and
  essentially directed towards the determination of what logical relations do and do not
  obtain, a course in this discipline can be, can indeed scarcely fail to be, a fine mental
  training. However, once we are fully aware of how totally different the two senses of the
  word 'philosophy' are, we do need to notice that many of the issues of philosophy as an
  intellectual discipline are in some way relevant to philosophy as world-outlook.

Yours truly, --Ludvikus 13:54, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

You seem to think that what you have written above supports your case (whatever that is). I can't see how. But then, if you have rejected rationality, that would not be surprising. Banno 20:29, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Scientific rationality

Question for User:Dbuckner: Is rational enquiry at all related to Rationality, or to Scientific rationality as characterized by the Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [2]? If so, how so? If not, why not? Yours truly, --Ludvikus 02:01, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

John Passmore on Merleau-Ponty's philosophical ideas

  In a summary of his philosophical ideas, prepared as part of his candidature for
  a professorship at the Collège de France,41 he criticised the rationalistic
  tradition he was attacking thus: 'We never cease to live in the world of perception
  but we by-pass it in critical thought ... critical thought has broken
  with the naive evidence of things.'
  [Boldface emphasis added]

Notice, User:Dbuckner, Merleau-Ponty's attack on your cherished/favored defining/characterizing terms/concepts of philosophy: 'rational' and 'critical'. Yours truly, --Ludvikus 14:16, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Let Dbuckner be Debuckner

I've added to the introduction a direct quote from Dbuckner that makes the point I have been trying to make all along, that not all philosophers use the word "reason" to mean the same thing. Please, Dbuckner, edit your quote rather than removing this idea entirely, and I, for one, will be satisfied with the introduction and ready to move on. Rick Norwood 14:39, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

"rational" vs. the "Rationalists"

An editor has claimed that the former does not mean the latter - the implication being that the Rationalist/Empiricist debate/controversy concluded with Hume in the 18th century. This is not true - this philosophical disputes continues well into the 20th century. John Passmore, on Merleau-Ponty says as follows (p. 500 of '100 years of philosophy'):

  .... The real relationship between 'form' and ourselves, he goes on to argue, is 'dialectical',
  not mechanical or causal. What does this mean? Merleau-Ponty sets out to explain in The
  Phenomenology of Perception. He has a delicate path to tread, between traditional
  empiricism and traditional rationalism.
  [Boldface emphasis added]

Yours truly, --Ludvikus 14:44, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

The latter is not co-extensive with the former, otherwise the implication would be that only members of the Rationalist school are rational. Thanks. KD Tries Again 17:35, 13 February 2007 (UTC)KD

But isn't the former co-extensive with the latter - those who claim Philosophy is a Rational Enquiry are in some sense, Rationalists, or "Neo-Rationalists" if you will, as much as they protest the charge/characterization? --Ludvikus 20:29, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
The latter is not co-extensive with the former,... [–KD]
But isn't the former co-extensive with the latter...? [–Ludvicus]
Ludvikus, you stand accused of hinting that coextension might not be a symmetric relation, which it is and always has been. I can furnish twenty references to this effect, and by Wales I will list them here at the slightest further provocation. I am sore tempted to report you not only to the Spanish Inquisition, but to a special Wiki-committee empanelled for the express purpose of frying your soul for one week. First warning! –Noetica 20:44, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
Noetica! It is not I who went to the trouble of distinguishing the 'latter' from the 'former'. I find people use their words at Wikipedia to mean what they want them to mean (Humpty-Dumpty style). It's not I who made the distinction above. What could KD Tries Again have meant by his remark above? He didn't simply say that the terms are not co-extensive! So if you're going to burn someone at the stake - it must be someone else that's worthy of your punishment. And besides, I prefer hemlock. What, Noetica - did you run out of hemlock?
On the other hand, regarding that committe that would fry me for a week - I though at least You would miss me. Remember who defended your baby - your etymological work on the Love of Wisdom (Philosophy)?
On the other hand, there's nothing like a good old-fashioned lynching, or hanging.
If I but were Barabbas.... --Ludvikus 21:47, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
Those who claim that philosophy is a rational enquiry are, I suspect, in few cases Rationalists. There aren't many Rationalists left. A Rationalist is someone who believes that knowledge of the external world can be derived from the exercise of reason, whereas an Empiricist claims that there can be no knowledge of the external world not derived from the senses. The wikipedia article on Rationalism might help you. If you wish to be helped. KD Tries Again 22:06, 13 February 2007 (UTC)KD
Actually, I wish to help you, and keep you out of Noetica's Inquisition, and weekly frying-pan, where she announced her intent to burn the soul of the one who would use co-extensiveness in an asymmetrical sense - which apparently you did, KD Tries Again.
The Evening Star and the Morning Star are symply co-extensive (symmetrical relation.
However, consider 2 spheres with a common center, O. Sphere A is 1 foot long. Sphere B is 2 feet long. So spere A is co-extensive with sphere B. But sphere B is not co-extensive with sphere A. Accordingly, this is an instance where the relation is asymmetrical. So whether co-extensiveness is one, or the other, is a contingent fact depending on the particular given instance. Q.E.D.
Regard you offer to help me - can you ask Noetica to remove her First Warning against me since it is you who have maintained the aymmetrical nature of the relation in the instance you gave regarding "rationality" & "Rationalism" - your usage which I've just defended? --Ludvikus 22:23, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
I could use your offer of help, actually, if you're still willing to give it, KD Tries Again. Can you tell me what User:Dbuckner means when he says that the method philosophy is characterized by Rational Enquiry? --Ludvikus 23:07, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
I find it hard to imagine a sphere being "1 foot long", but if you are referring to something like the radius, then the two spheres in your example are not co-extensive. Regardless of sharing a center, since they have different volumes they could hardly be. Thanks. KD Tries Again 19:31, 16 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Sandford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Rationalism vs. Empiricism First published Thu 19 Aug, 2004

  The dispute between rationalism and empiricism concerns the extent to which we are dependent upon
  sense experience in our effort to gain knowledge. Rationalists claim that there are significant
  ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience.
  Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge.
  
  Rationalists generally develop their view in two ways. First, they argue that there are cases
  where the content of our concepts or knowledge outstrips the information that sense experience
  can provide. Second, they constuct accounts of how reason in some form or other provides
  that additional information about the world. Empiricists present complementary lines of thought.
  First, they develop accounts of how experience provides the information that rationalists cite,
  insofar as we have it in the first place. (Empiricists will at times opt for skepticism as an
  alternative to rationalism: if experience cannot provide the concepts or knowledge the
  rationalists cite, then we don't have them.) Second, empiricists attack the rationalists'
  accounts of how reason is a source of concepts or knowledge.

And by the way, no Wikipedian Philosophy editor has presented any cited support that Rational[ity] is unrelated to Reason. So we must take Rational Enquery as in fact dependent on Reason.

It's very odd - to say the least - to see Rationality and Reason revived by Wikipedia. So what is this mysterious Rational Enquiry which has nothing to do with Rationalism, or Reason?
Yours truly, --Ludvikus 17:26, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
On the other hand... . On the other hand... .
Ludvicus, you are now judged to be a recalcitrant and persistent offender, as evidenced by your inability to limit yourself to two hands per bilaterally symmetrical hominid. Your continuing offences against symmetry are now such that your butt will be fried instead, for a period of fourteen (14) days – one week on one side, one week on the other – commencing at such a time and date as a duly appointed subcommittee of administrators shall determine. –Noetica 02:09, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Medieval philosophy

Hoping against hope that Dbuckner will accept some version of his own words in the introduction, I have moved along to the section on Medieval philosophy. I do not know enough to make a major contribution to this section, but I do know enough to correct obvious errors, such as the claim that Boethius was a scholastic!

It may be that the worst thing about the long squabble over the introduction was that it distracted people from sections, such as this one, which need a lot of work. I hope there is a medieval scholar who will contribute.

Rick Norwood 15:05, 13 February 2007 (UTC)


Merleau-Ponty on Intellectualism

Says John Passmore, p. 501 of 100 years ...:

     The traditional alternative to empiricism has been some form of 'intellectualism',
  according to which perceptual experience is nothing more than a means of 'triggering-off'
  the activity of pure thought. But then it becomes impossible to understand, Merleau-Ponty
  argues, why experience should be needed at all. For how can pure thought ever be ignorant?
  "Empiricism", Merleau-Ponty sums up, 'fails to see that we need to know what we are looking for'
  since otherwise we would not be looking for it; "intellectualism" fails to realize that we must
  be ignorant of what we are looking for, or else, once more, we should not be searching.

Yours truly, --Ludvikus 15:05, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Monty-Python on Intellectualism

Please, tell me you're kidding! Rick Norwood 15:07, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Nice pun on Ponty Python and Monty Merleau. Nevertheless, that France and the French for you, dear fellow Anglo-American. We may not like them philosophically, except as comic relief - nevertheless, they exist, and demand their proper place among us. --Ludvikus 17:02, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

New introduction

In answer to Rick's question, I have no objection to the change he has made in the introduction. That's not the same as saying I like it. It is not incorrect, but it makes the introduction unnecessarily prolix. And I am not really sure why it is there. But in any case, go ahead, be my guest. I have lost the will to continue – I privately emailed some administrators to see if there was any possibility of changing Wikipedia policy on 'difficult' editors, and the answer is, no, not a chance. So Ludvikus, Lucas, please, go ahead. I'm interested in what you all have to say, and will watch the progress of this article with interest. Best. Dbuckner 15:28, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. If you have no objection, and I assume you don't, I'll shorten your quote a little to make the intro less prolix. And I hope you will contribute to the rest of the article, which badly needs work I am not qualified to do. Rick Norwood 16:48, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Schism in Philosophy

I noticed someone has removed much of the sourced material on this matter. Now if you look at the page we have extensive sections on many issues that are less relevant to a general philosophy page. Often these sections are unsourced and rambling or have their own main pages anyhow. For example, a long section on "Human nature and political legitimacy" another on "Consequentialism, deontology, and the aretaic turn", "Analytic tradition " another on "The Prominence of Logic", "The Identity of Philosophy" and finally one on "applied philosophy" which somehow manages to avoid mentioning Karl Marx. -- Lucas (Talk) 23:11, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

That's what happens when the intro is rewritten twenty times a day. The rest of the article boards a handbasket. Rick Norwood 23:21, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
In accordance with the consensus here, I have reverted the section on the schism. Consider making the longer version a separate page or incorporating it into Western philosophy or the like. I concur that there are other rambling sections that could be culled; they are further down the page and as mentioned above we don't even have a stable intro. yet. JJL 03:17, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Well there does seem to be some course agreement on this though it be unreasoned, but I do not think we are going about it in the right way. If you simply hack out large sections of text without any discussion you will be left with a very arbitrary and simple page. The first to go should be unsourced material. It seems that most Analytic philosophers here wish to remove mention of this schism and well there is little I can do about this, but if if we go ahead in this way we will get a very warped philosophy page. As many of these seem to have a view of philosophy which is most at home in a philosophy that existed 200 years ago, not long after the first encylopedia. As though most "upstanding gentlemen" agree on the matter of philosophy, they confuse it with science. A longer schism section at least gives the reader a better idea of what really happens in philosophy and what the shape of it is like today.
Nor do I agree with Dbuckner when he suggests this issue can be handled on the individual pages of Analytic and Continental, there were already there long rambling, biased section on the schism in each of these articles but these sections were simply deleted. Also there was a spearate article on this and it too was deleted.
It seems that a simply history as given of the confrontation between these parties is all that can be given. I think if Analytic "took-over" most philosophy departments in only the US and UK during the 40s and 50s that this is fairly relevant to where it stands today, as most remain in-situ. Strangely though it is not to Analytic that other departments turn in trying to come to terms with todays world, in literature and art, history and film studies, but to Continental. I think it is the most notable aspect of philosophy in academia today but do not ever tell them they have no clothes on. -- Lucas (Talk) 14:44, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Do we agree that there is a consensus against having that lengthy schism section in there? JJL 15:16, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Well if you mean just a vote on something without any discussion I do not know how editors would vote, but that would not be consensual in any case. If you refer to a discussion that occurred some time ago and resulted in the existing section on schism being left there, then that, de facto, consensus would seem to indicate that the section should be left intact.
The article was in a certain state and locked for some time due to such reversions in the first place. Discussion moved to a "workshop" area. I've not seen any further work in that direction and the page seems to have devolved into another faction fight with, reverts and reverts and little or no consensus or useful discussion. I would cite certain editors as being the main agressors, provocatively threatening others, laying down the law according to themselves or saying they will withdraw, and then making themselves look foolish by not keeping to their word. Also referring to edits in a disrespectful manner is not helpful, since this inevitably provokes incoherent discussions on this talk page.-- Lucas (Talk) 16:15, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

A resolution for any to sign

Whereas User:Ludvikus repeatedly and blatantly ignores the ordinary principles of rational discussion, User:Ludvikus is an incorrigible troll and an obstacle to the improvement of this article.

Agreed to by the undersigned users: 271828182 03:27, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Agreed.Richiar 03:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

If you want to do something constructive about this matter please either get an RfC or begin the arbitrations process. You'll have my support there, for what that's worth. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 04:01, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I'll support anything on those lines, but there is a wider issue. The policies of Wiki are simply not strict enough to deal with this kind of offender. L. is well-meaning, that I truly believe. But he cannot comprehend the effect he is having. In a moderated news group, he would have been kindly and gently shut off just by preventing him contributing, unless his contributions were helpful, to the point, constructive &c. I have taken this matter up with some of the administrators, but I am told it is 'our fault' for not dealing with him in the right way. It is an embarrassment for my subject. Google 'philosophy' and this page comes up number 1. What sort of impression are people getting? It is a scandal. And no one outside this page seems to care about it. Anyway, end of rant. Dbuckner 08:11, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I do not think this is helpful. As Dbuckner says, Ludvikus's intentions are good, which means he is not a troll. I don't always agree with him, but then, I don't always agree with Dbuckner : )

The vast majority of people who visit the Philosophy page never look at this discussion page. Let's all work on making the article better, instead of attacking one another. Rick Norwood 14:00, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I think you misunderstood my remarks. I believe L is acting in good faith, in the sense that he is not conscious of the considerable harm he is doing. Really he isn't. Nonetheless he is doing considerable harm, and there should be some way of easily removing him. It is quite impossible to get anything done here without the stream of vacuous and irritating comments and thoughtless ranting &c &c. Best Dbuckner 14:13, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I understood what you said. A troll is by definition a person of ill-will (hides under bridges instead of building them).

The thing to do with vacuuous and irritating comments is to ignore them. My rule of thumb is that if a writer doesn't say something interesting in the first sentence, read something else. I've urged Ludvikus to write briefly and more carefully, and I've seen some sign that he is trying to do so. Advice may be helpful, name calling never is.

Now, can we please get off of the subject of personalities and think about how to improve the article.

Rick Norwood 15:56, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

RFC - conduct of user

I have found user Ludvikus to be brazenly disruptive of the editng of this article, incorrigible to correction, and demoralizing to the community of editors. I believe there to be near unanimous agreement on this. His pattern remains the same as before he was banned for 1 week. Next step? Richiar 04:53, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

For what it's worth, add my support to this. But as I said above, it's a wider issue. It should not take so long to deal with such an egregious problem. Dbuckner 08:15, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

On general improvements

Well the introduction does seem to have stabilised, famous last words. On the rest, well of course it's a mess. But one step at a time. On the history, I believe all agreed that the heavy lifting is done by History of philosophy. Could we also agree to trim down the many large lists of philosophers occuring in the history sections? Anyone who wants detailed information can go to the history article. These sections should explain, to a beginner, what was going on in the four main periods, viz,. Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, Modern. That's a question in itself, but something to think about. For starters, Rationalism began in the Ancient period, indeed was there from the very beginning. Then there is the obsession with the problem with change that is the motivation for much of Plato and Aristotle's philosophy. Any ideas. What were the three main ideas of each of the four periods? Dbuckner 14:20, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Now we're getting somewhere!
I would say that ancient philosophy introduced the big questions: what is the nature of the universe, what is the best political system, how should one live, what is art, and what rules govern correct thinking. The Medieval system focused on the relationship between reality and language (realism vs. nominalism) and on the relationship between man and God. It was strongly influenced by Christian theology. The Early Modern philosophers formulated the methods of mathematics and science, and tried to bring these methods to the questions reaised by the ancients. They mocked the Medieval philosophers with the canard that they tried to discover how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. The Modern Philosophers focus on multiculturalism, and on the ambiguities of language.
I do think each section should mention a few names, but only the most important. A catalog of unfamiliar names is boring and unhelpful.
Rick Norwood 16:16, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Contents

Here is the Table of Contents for everyone to see:

   * 1 Western Philosophy
         o 1.1 Main Branches of Western Philosophy
         o 1.2 The Identity of Philosophy
         o 1.3 History of Western philosophy
               + 1.3.1 Greco-Roman philosophy
               + 1.3.2 Medieval philosophy
               + 1.3.3 Modern Western philosophy
               + 1.3.4 Schism of Analytic and Continental philosophy
   * 2 Eastern philosophy
         o 2.1 Indian philosophy
         o 2.2 Persian philosophy
         o 2.3 Chinese philosophy
   * 3 African philosophy
   * 4 Metaphysics and epistemology (Western Philosophy)
         o 4.1 Skepticism
         o 4.2 Rationalism and empiricism
         o 4.3 Kantian philosophy and the rise of idealism
         o 4.4 American Pragmatism
         o 4.5 The prominence of logic
         o 4.6 Phenomenology and hermeneutics
         o 4.7 Existentialism
         o 4.8 The Analytic tradition
   * 5 Ethics and political philosophy (Western Philosophy)
         o 5.1 Human nature and political legitimacy
         o 5.2 Consequentialism, deontology, and the aretaic turn
   * 6 Applied philosophy
   * 7 References
   * 8 Further reading
         o 8.1 Introductions
         o 8.2 Topical introductions
         o 8.3 Anthologies
         o 8.4 Reference works
         o 8.5 Bibliographies
   * 9 See also
   * 10 External links

Items numbered 4, 5, & 6 are obviously part of Western philosophy and should be moved up, and made to follow Item no. 2. Yours truly, --Ludvikus 14:40, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

The structure you suggest is intro > Western > non-Western > References. The current structure is intro > by region > by topic > References. I can see advantages to either method. One advantage to the current structure is that it makes it easier to discuss, for example, what Confucius said about ethics and politics (in which case the parenthetical "Western Philosophy" should be removed from 4 and 5). With those parenthetical restrictions, your structure is clearly more appropriate. Rick Norwood 16:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Not quite. The fact is that this page is mostly (90%) about one Region - the West. But it pretends to generalize over the World. I think we should keep all the Regions - otherwise it would be an Imperialistic omission. However, the fact is - for whatever reason - that Western philosophy dominates. So put the Western region up front - and completely so. It makes no sense to have it chopped up as it is right now. African Philosophy, as well as Eastern Philosophy, should be developed separately within the article. To generalize over them would probably be mostly Original Research. --Ludvikus 16:13, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Actually, the article is about one third non-Western. The big question we need to answer is, should non-Western ideas about, for example, epistemology, to be integrated with Western ideas, or kept separate. Historically, they developed separately, but in a modern discussion of the subject, they would usually be included. Rick Norwood 16:25, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. Regarding angels and pinheads, you might find this of interest. Dbuckner 16:28, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I did not mean a measure by a word-count just on the page. Look at the Table of Contents - the measure would be smaller than one third I think. Also, more specificly, I think we should keep things separate - we have no choice. The World is divided by geographical regions and we are not in a position to generalize as to epistemology throughout the world. These are separate traditions. We should not out do the work pfilosophers. User:Lucidish mentioned a book on "World Philosophy". The reference is still here (somewhere way above). But when I pointed out that it showed a "Separate", rather than, an integrated, treatment, Lucidish didn't respond - to my recollection.
As for you, Dbuckner, I'm sure you have more constructive remarks to make than to count the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. But as an aside, Db, is the number finite? Or is it infinite - in your opinion? --Ludvikus 16:53, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
The answer to the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is 42 times ten to the 23rd power. Now, back to work. Rick Norwood 20:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
So since no one objects, why don't you just move #2 & #3 down to follow #6? If I do it, I'm certain it will be reverted only because I did it. --Ludvikus 21:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

There is still a question to be decided before we make such a move: Do we want the subject matter sections to include or exclude non-Western philosophy. A few more people need to sound off on that question before we go ahead. Rick Norwood 22:24, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm not certain I understand your question regarding "subject matter sections". Please explain. If I speculate, I would say that in discussing Schopenhauer, it is easy and natural to discuss Indian philosophy because of his explicit work dealing with this "matter". Is that the kind of issue you are raising? There's also Nietzsche and his explicit work regarding Zoroastrianism. That's also something to be encouraged as appropriate to discuss within Western philosophy herein.
It would be useful, and nice, if our effective leader, User:Dbuckner, expressed himself on this as well. --Ludvikus 22:52, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

In the table of contents, sections 1, 2, and 3 are geographic, 4, 5, and 6 are subjects. You suggested moving 2 and 3 below 4 5 and 6. If 4 5 and 6 cover both Western and non-Western philosophers, it would not be good to move non-Western philosophy below the three subject matter sections. Rick Norwood 22:57, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

But these sections do not cover both. You obviously are not looking at the parenthetical qualification: "(Western Philosophy)". Besides, to cover the "subjects" of philosophy accross sections is currently impossible; to do so would be Original Research; and no one has done the synthesis. As I told you above, there is a book, 1st cited by User:Lucidish, which shows that the geographic Regions are treated separately - as they are mostly isolated, relatively independent, traditions.
So be bald, as Wikipedia policy requires, and make the move already - not even Dbuckner has so far objected (I hope he doesn't revert after your move). --Ludvikus 23:27, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I suppose you're referring to the Cua quotation? In any case, it has seemed to me that the topical sections should not be "(Western)", they should be global. You can do this by the compilation of disparate traditions without engaging in the synthesis of them, though it will likely take separate subsections to get that done. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 00:51, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I do not recall the term "Cua". Is that the author/editor of the book you cite, "World Philosophy"?
But I think it's extremely inappropriate to do what you suggest. Let each region determine, so to speack, for itself under what "sections" the descriptions should proceed - otherwise, we are in danger of imposing Western categories in a presumptuous fashion. I had copied (somewhere above) the Table of Contents from the work you cited - and demonstrated that the work treats each section separately. How can you expect a Wikipedia editor to write about Epistemology, or Ontology, or whatever, accross all regions of the World when there even is no Textbook of Philosophy that does that. These are separate traditions - and to presume that they shall fall under Western categories is not justified, at this time, and on Wikipedia. Perhaps in 200 years, there will be Universal Philosophy and that question may not arise. But unless you can give a Reference of a book that actually does what you propose, we have no justification to do that - it would require Original Research to do what you propose. --Ludvikus 01:06, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Anthony S. Cua was one of the writers I cited, but no he wasn't the writer of the Global Philosophies text. However: Cua is one of those voices who tacitly acknowledges the fact that there's a residue of the Western tradition in discussions of philosophy, in the sense you're talking about, i.e., the fundamental branches. The question is, why is this significant? Cua seems fairly optimistic about the felicity of the expression, "Chinese philosophy", and he grounds it with the branches. These facts all give lie to the claim that what I've proposed is "original research". { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 20:18, 15 February 2007 (UTC)



Schism section

Can we get some consensus on this? I think it's much too detailed for this overview article and favor having it whittled down to a single paragraph and a link to either Western philosophy or, if it's recreated, its own 'Schism' page. As this page attempts to treat both Western and Eastern phil. already, a lengthy discussion of a modern split in Western phil. seems like too much too soon at this level of overview. I'd also make it a subsection of 1.3 rather than a new 1.4 as it currently stands. JJL 17:31, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree with JJL. Rick Norwood 17:41, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree. But I don't see any point in working on the article while the other nonsense is going on. Dbuckner 17:43, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
This has already been extensively discussed, about a month ago, and no consensus to reduce it was reached. Though a subsection within it regarding something on Marxism and analytic philosophy was subsequently removed. The issue of having every section in the philosophy article (which is not necessarily an "overview" article, see workshop discussion on what the article should do), of about one or two self-contained paragraphs with pointers to sub-articles also needs to be cleared up. There is already a philosophy panel which does most of the work this kind of approach would require. Though I'm not suggesting that you do not create another article for this. -- Lucas (Talk) 21:22, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I've checked in the workshop (which in my view wasn't hugely helpful, given that both 'problem' editors and domain experts were given equal vote), and there was a near universal agreement that the history should be kept short and sweet. Dbuckner 09:13, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
And Lucas, please stop reverting. Rick Norwood asked you on your talk page. User27 and JJL have both reverted back from your edits. And so have I. In the face of this obvious consensus, you are just being tendentious. Please stop this. Dbuckner 10:14, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
What I do, is an attempt to follow consensus, and, set some standard for this article and others. Do you really want to see all sections written for wiki just periodically re-written every year or two? Do you want that we all just write on a beach and wait for the next tide?
There was no consensus in the main debate on this. Most have probably lost interest in the topic but certain people keep insisting on putting the matter up for vote, if you vote 10 times per year on this single issue you are bound to get agreement once. I suggest leaving it there, since there was no consensus to delete. If any other section was subjected to this vote and re-vote, all would have been deleted long ago. Perhaps, come back to it later when we have a clearer idea of what shape this page should take, ie, whether or not it is just going to be a shell like an expanded philosophy panel, or if, being the most general page, its main idea should be to host such matters or contentions that cut across multiple pages.
It seems the vote of certain people would like to bury the idea of a schism altogether (as happened on the analytic page), I do not think that is doing justice to philosophy today. What I ask is that you examine the possibility that burying this issue, or others like it, might do great injustice to wiki philosophy and turn it into a bland, "sandcastle" irrelevancy, an image that it increasingly comes to resemble. You have a global opportunity to give wiki-philosophy a living chance rather than let it suffocate and be taken down by the last throws of analytical philosophy.
-- Lucas (Talk) 15:38, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Well, (a) that's the way it is done here, and there is no way round that (b) the decision was that there was too much detail in that section to go into an article like this (c) it was in any case v. poorly written original research, and the article it came from was nominated for deletion. Enough said. Dbuckner 15:50, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
you say "that is the way it is done here", do you mean that the way "it is done here", is to break a consensus by voting often enough on something so as to eventually win out? That is not the way it should be done here, as far as I can see. (b) there was no decision on this being overly detailed, there was no consensus, therefore no decision. (c) this is a separate matter, the article that was deleted was objected to based on material that is not contained in this section and mainly based on the name of that article. The lack of consensus also reflects the fact that it is not of a lower standard or any more original than the rest of the article. In fact, I would suggest the style is probably in the better half of most the article, since much of the article reads like a babies introduction to philosophy and presents it as being so bland that it will likely deter any new interest in wiki-philosophy. In any case, on a non-subjective issue, sourcing is our main concern and unlike much of the article it is well sourced. -- Lucas (Talk) 17:17, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
We're treating Western and Eastern phil. in this article, explaining what they are and giving an overview of all of them. The schism deserves mentioning but details should be handled elsewhere. No one wants the discussion of the schism not to occur on WP--but there's a proper place for it. JJL 17:38, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
For goodness sake, there was a consensus. Here:

2. The sections 'Schism of Analytic and Continental philosophy' and 'Some Historical notes on the Analytic side of the Schism'. They are horribly written and, frankly, come across as quite loopy.

  • Support. Dbuckner 08:44, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Support. This section surpasses my understanding. If someone feels deeply attached to it, maybe it should be split off and re-worked. --Chris 10:28, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This has been Vandalized. But it's extremely well document in the literature. It is an accounting of the division between so-called Coninental philosophy and Anglo-American philosophy. It begins with the Rationalist/Empirists division, continues with the consequences of the French Revolution and the conflict caused by the split between England and France, and opposition to revolutionary movement adocated by Karl Marx, and is severly propted forward by Lenin's rise to power and the success of the October Revolution in 1917. Also, although Marx had been marginalized in Germany, the Young Hegelians emerged. Much of all these philosophers became extremely important in Europe, but only became recognized in the 1960's in the United States. In general, on the Continent, there was not the kind of stigma attached to quoting Marx. In the United States, anyone citing anything involving Marx was liable of being labeled a Communist. I am prepared to write a clean "stub" on this - subject to development. --Ludvikus 10:56, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Support. Make it its own page and reference it here with a brief overview of the issue. JJL 14:27, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose. The issue should be retained, but the current version needs strong clean-up and better placement in the article. Zeusnoos 14:33, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Support. Much of this material is poorly-written POV original research, pasted from an article that was deleted. See the Afd here. This isn't mob-rule, it's WP consensus. 271828182 14:41, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose to the elimination of the 'Schism' section (as per Zeusnoos); support for the 'notes' section. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 15:08, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Support deletion of historical notes. As written, it's a laughing stock. The defense posted by Ludvikus above is as bad: the Young Hegelians were contemporaries of Marx and didn't somehow emerge - when? - around 1917? Nor did they get 'recognized' in the States in the 1960s. Countless key figures in Continental philosophy were conservative/anti-Marxist/a-political/pre-Marx - Kiekregaard, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, to name but a handful. Get rid. There does need to be discussion of the analytic/continental divide, but as stated above the current content mainly derives from a discredited and deleted article. Easiest to start again. KD Tries Again 17:55, 23 January 2007 (UTC)KD

Dbuckner 18:38, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes, that was the consensus. I don't understand Lucas's position. KD Tries Again 19:38, 16 February 2007 (UTC)KD

This gives a vote of 5:3, if you interpret a vote of mine (not given in above quote), it is 5:4. Either way it is not consensus; a crude consensus is interpreted as at least a 2/3 majority, neither of these votes give this. In addition, the vote of certain editors who appear out of nowhere should not count as much. Also some of the votes referred only to a subsection on Marxism which was removed (eg, KD's vote). So there was no consensus to remove it at that time.
I don't suggest that there are no problems with it, but most of them were to do with a section called "Historical notes" which talked of analytic, the red scare and marxism and whose accuracy was disputed. Any accuracy disputes are valid, if sourced, loose canon talk on prosaic matters are mainly a waste of our time, reword it if you want to smoothen the syntax for your own Anglo-Latvian or Anglo-Spanish ear!
On JJL's comment: was there another assumed consensus that this page must only treat East/West philosophy? By the way, the issue of the schism is not just an issue in Western philosophy. Unless you want to believe that in the East they still only study Confucius! The schism is prevalent too in Eastern philosophy departments. I still think some editors on here live primarily in the 18th century (those vociferous rationalists), it now appears that others seem to live BCE. Try not to forget about that glowing box in front of your eyes.
-- Lucas (Talk) 21:19, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
There is an inconsistency in the way that 'Eastern philosophy' is treated, yes. Most of the stuff that people cite as Eastern is in fact very old philosophy, and equivalent to limiting all Western philosophy to Thales or Socrates or something like that. I pointed that out on this page years ago, but got argued down. I would prefer separate articles on Western and Eastern traditions rather than lumping a whole bunch of different things on one page, but that is probably not acceptable here. Dbuckner 10:03, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Just to be clear about the vote, the three opposed were a user who has been blocked for disruption, and two editors who indicated the need for a strong clean-up, one of them clearly distinguishing the Notes from the rest of the section. So five against and two asking for a strong clean-up really does mean a consensus that the section cannot stand as written. I have given you sourced reasons for particular changes in the past. Is it necessary to go over it again, or are you willing to retain the topic but make a fresh start on it? KD Tries Again 16:54, 19 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Zoroaster

I wouldn't have dared suggest this, but in fact Rick Norwood did: the section on Z. is long in relation to the treatment of other philosophers. Given (if my view is accepted) that the article is an overview, i.e. that not even Aristotle or Aquinas or Kant gets separate treatment here, what do we do with that section.

I'm working on a section on Ancient philosophy right how. Dbuckner 08:34, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

I've also noticed that Idealism, which dominated European philosophy in one form or another from Descartes until the early 20c, is hardly mentioned as such. Berkeley gets mentioned in a strange context. And there is nothing that explains what Idealism actually is. I'll get to work on some notes. However, I am still not touching the article itself. Dbuckner 13:27, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Confucius gets a single paragraph here...I would agree with cutting this back. (Is all that info. located at one of the more focused articles like Iranian philosophy etc.?) We still face the problem that covering Western phil. and Eastern phil. in one article is like, well, treating Western and Eastern science, or math., or art, etc., in one article; it's problematic. Still, both must be addressed, in my opinion. JJL 17:08, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
The last two paragraphs should be moved to Medieval philosophy, as the philosophers mentioned there are quite important in that period, and also that article needs fattening up. If there are no objections, I will do that? Dbuckner 18:22, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Vital articles in philosophy

See my assessment in Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is not failing. Dbuckner 11:04, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Analytic Tradition: Chomsky picture removed

I see someone removed most of the text I thought mistaken. Thanks. I also removed the picture of Chomsky. I think we can avoid debating whether he is an analytic philosopher - he's simply not sufficiently notable to be the visual figurehead for the section (compare the other sections - Husserl decorates phenomenology, Russell adorns logic, Descartes illustrates rationalism, etc). I should have thought Frege or Wittgenstein or Ryle or Austin or Quine would be better. It just needs to be someone who it is not controversial to identify as an analytic philosopher. KD Tries Again 19:59, 16 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Ryle is pretty archetypal, or Austin. Quine is too logical, Wittgenstein too Austrian :-). We need one of those black and white pictures of chaps in three-piece grey suits having tea in college rooms and boring the hell out of someone with examples of linguistic usage. Dbuckner 09:59, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
PS I have put a pic of G.E.Moore on my user page. Dbuckner 12:24, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Ha, in that case Austin would be good. Or Ryle, with his pipe. KD Tries Again 16:48, 19 February 2007 (UTC)KD
I forgot pipes. Pipes were v. important. edward (buckner) 10:35, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Medieval philosophy

I am developing this now. There is a new section on Islamic philosophy which builds on the section I moved from this article. I plan to add a section on Early Christian philosophy, then a short section on the High Middle Ages which will link to a much more detailed treatment in Scholasticism. Best Dbuckner 17:06, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Useful tag

edward (buckner) 11:27, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

This was from User:Rosenkreuz's page. One of the best and funniest editors around. See e.g. this edit. edward (buckner) 11:33, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Phenomenology section

Started work on this. Consider it "in progress". I will source it from Woodruff Smith's new book on Husserl. I have redescribed phenomenology so it doesn't sound like just any account of human experience, but I will improve the description. KD Tries Again 21:58, 19 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Second draft. I tried looking at the Wiki entry on Husserl, but unfortunately it's not up to scratch - it pretty much ignores Logical Investigations. I tried to summarize the main points of phenomenology, but it may still be unintelligible in such a short space.
By the way, the stuff on hermeneutics is not mine, and it doesn't begin to explain what Heidegger meant by hermeneutics - unlike Gadamer, Heidegger is not primarily concerned with texts. It would take a few sentences to try and clarify it. Shall I do that, or is something we want to lose as insufficiently notable? If we deal with hermeneutics, why not structuralism, post-struc., deconstruction, etc.? KD Tries Again 21:06, 20 February 2007 (UTC)KD
I think that recent stuff (post-1960s) shouldn't be included, or at least, not included in the level of detail as the sections currently in place. This would include struct, post-struct, deconstruct, Rorty's neo-pragmatism, etc. Their histories aren't done yet. Poor Yorick 23:27, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Fine by me, but it leaves structuralism up in the air, arguably semiotics too. What about hermeneutics, though? I don't feel strongly that it should be in or out, but it's awkward where it is. Yes, Heidegger leads to Gadamer and Ricoeur, but it doesn't accurately say how or why, I don't know if the explanation deserves the space. KD Tries Again 17:02, 21 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Existentialism

Just started thinking about this. Nietzsche needs only a passing mention. I think it should be structured as beginning with Kierkegaard (using his opposition to Hegel to characterize his complaints about "objectivity"), and then showing existentialism as inherited by many religious thinkers. Most well-known existentialists were concerned with religion: Marcel, Buber, Tillich, Unamuno, Shestov, Beryaev, etc.

Then develop the Jaspers/Heidegger roots into Sartrean existentialism, which is atheistic and which became the most famous branch. Mention Camus and we're done, no? I don't mean to make it much longer, but that structure makes more sense to me. Thoughts? I can source it from the Macquarrie book on existentialism, maybe from William Barrett. I'll see what else I have. KD Tries Again 22:02, 19 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Will Barrett uses the common structure of "The Big 4": Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre, which is standard in many existentialist anthologies. The SEP entry uses this standard. Heidegger is already mentioned in the phenomenology section, so only K, N, and S are left, and they get a sentence or two each. For a short section in the philosophy article, the Big 4 structure is enough, I think. The details must go in the actual existentialism article, but which is a mess. Poor Yorick 06:45, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
I've always argued that the Philosophy article should be a set of links connected by a coherent thread. On this view, the section on E. should be a summary of what's in the main article. Don't know enough about the balance between the big 4. On the Existentialism article, I see what you mean. A lot of the detail looks roughly right, but the overall style, and the introduction, are awful. edward (buckner) 10:34, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
That said, there are some clearly good editors helping out on it right now. The thing with introductions is to wait until the meat of the article is nice and ready, then get the introduction to summarise it. edward (buckner) 10:45, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Feb 21 draft: I just posted a revised draft of the section. I don't think there's anything there which will be hard to reference. No objection to reincorporating the lost point about existence preceding essence - it just didn't fit my flow, and I am not sure how clear it is without some explanation. I reduced Nietzsche to a parenthesis for the reason given, and omitted further exploration of existentialist literature: both decisions based on length only, and I am happy to expand if that's the consensus. Heck, I'll add Colin Wilson if any wants me to. KD Tries Again 17:32, 21 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Interesting draft. I've made some changes for the reasons stated:
  1. I didn't really like leaving Nietzsche alone here, so I added him with Kierkegaard, and refed a Nietzsche as Existentialist scholar, the late Bob Solomon.
  2. Likewise, I didn't like the existentialist stereotype Kierkegaard, so I refed a Kierkegaard as Postmodernist by the preeminent K scholars Matustik and Westphal.
  3. Hegel's comprehensiveness is debatable, so I replaced it with idealist, which is really what K was against.
  4. Refed one of the foremost controversial piece on this matter, Letter on Humanism
  5. Being and Nothingness is Sartre's tour de force
  6. Beauvoir arguably contributed more to existentialism than Camus, so I'll leave both in.
  7. As you've mentioned Christian existentialists, I've added a see also to that article.

Poor Yorick 00:26, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Community action review on Ludvikus

Regular editors of this article may be interested in participating in the following discussion: Wikipedia:Community noticeboard#Community action review on Ludvikus. Best, Sandstein 06:13, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

No! We've finally gotten past the personalities and started discussing philosophy. This action has nothing to do with the topic of this page, and threatens to start up again what has at long last died down. Rick Norwood 13:49, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Congratulations

Congratulations to Edward(Buckner) and K D Tries Again for improving the article. Rick Norwood 13:51, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't know who User:Skomorokh is but he (or she) has done a lot of work in the past few days on Existentialism. I'm not an expert but this diff looks like a very good explanation. I mean, it tries to explain what something actually is, rather than get bogged down in detail, or lists, or nonsense. As I've said before, it's the quality of the articles immediately underneath this one, which are what counts. Perhaps we are finally getting somewhere. (And thanks also for the compliment Rick). edward (buckner) 14:45, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Thanks ditto. I have some notes with which to spruce up the phenomenology bit later today, and I'll take note of the comments on existentialism too.KD Tries Again 15:06, 20 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Prominence of logic

I started to tidy up the beginning of that section, so it flowed into Phenomenology, then ended up making a number of corrections. Logic seems to come out of nowhere in the discussion of phil of maths, though. I hope somebody can do better with the contributions of Frege and Wittgenstein at the end of the first para. Personally, I would lose the last sentence about Popper; it needs explaining, but why do we want to get into philosophy of science here? I think the section as now written ends with Carnap et al's use of symbolic logic, although it could certainly continue with subsequent developments in logic - not my field. KD Tries Again 17:10, 20 February 2007 (UTC)KD

The logic section was an early attempt at introducing Analytic philosophy. Better to have a short section analytics, mentioning the importance they gave to logic, and no more. I think we are generally agreed we want to keep away from the level of detail this page has aspired to in the past. edward (buckner) 12:20, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Shortening the article?

As some of KD's recent edits attest, and as some of the recent vandalism indicates, it may be unworkable to try to synopsize all philosophy (western, eastern, north-northwestern, analytic, continental, 4-wheel drive) at the level of detail this patchwork often attempts. The fix would be to have very succinct summaries with links to separate articles on each sub-field, historical period, etc. (Of course, most such articles are almost as dire as this one, but that's a long-term problem: and maybe some of the current sub-sections can be spun into the separate articles.) Does anyone have any clever ideas about large-scale proposals to shorten this article, and get its sub-sections treating subjects at a consistent level of detail? 271828182 21:35, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

I can certainly see what you mean. As things stand, the logic section basically stops in 1928. Meanwhile, the phenomenology section, which I admit hardly does more than gesture at Husserl's work, already seems to give him more prominence than most philosophers on the page. KD Tries Again 21:54, 20 February 2007 (UTC)KD
I'm all in favor of shortening the article, and standardizing the sub-sections so "favoritism" is minimized. Poor Yorick 23:29, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Agree with all of this. The advantage of sub-articles is that they do not attract cranks. In terms of practical suggestions, why not just delete some stuff? Removing obvious bad writing is an uncontroversial way to do that. Also, given that Indian philosophy is already a sub-article with nothing in it, and since there is a long essay on the subject here, why don't I move that now? edward (buckner) 12:22, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
OK I've moved the Indian philosophy to Indian philosophy, and deleted the Persian philosophy section as there is already plenty of material in other parts of the encyclopedia. I've left Chinese philosophy for the moment. edward (buckner) 12:29, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
See WP:SIZE for useful information on how to trim articles down. (A note to anyone reading this, in case of concern: NO MATERIAL HAS BEEN DELETED. Juat moved to appropriate subsections. edward (buckner) 12:31, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
I've completely changed the Medieval philosophy section, which was badly written and inaccurate. A brief summary of what it is about, then a swift link to the appropriate page. Note I have widened the scope of Medieval philosophy to include the Middle East and Byzantine traditions. This is consistent with Hyman and Walsh's treatment. I haven't dared suggest any major philosophers. Academic consensus view, based on length of treatment, is Aquinas, Ockham, Scotus, Maimonides, Averroes. edward (buckner) 12:37, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
Actually I have removed one bit, which was the introduction to the history section. I've left in the bit about being divided into three periods, which is fairly uncontroversial. edward (buckner) 12:48, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

The article is improving to such an extent that maybe some of the warning tags can be dropped. One thing I would suggest is that when you move a section to a subarticle, you move the appropriate references as well.

Aquinas, Ockham, Scotus, Maimonides, Averroes sounds about right to me. Roger Bacon actually came earlier than William of Ockham, but he was philosophically part of a later group of philosophers, I think, and was not at all Medieval in outlook.

Rick Norwood 14:41, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Latest improvements

The work on Existentialism has greatly improved on what was there before. However the contrast between the other parts of the article only becomes more glaring. Also the question of how to balance the different parts of the article becomes even more difficult. The bits on existentialism and analytic philosophy occur in the large section called 'Metaphysics'. Whereas these sections partly belong in the history section, partly to 'Schools of philosophy', and what they are really doing is setting the background to 'philosophy in the twentieth century'. I wonder if the phenomenology and existential bits couldn't be put in the Continental philosophy article, which would be written in parallel with Analytic philosophy. Having completed these, we could then make a judgement about how much goes in here. Remember there is still nothing on Idealism yet! Apart from some very strange things, that is. edward (buckner) 19:02, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

The 'Prominence of Logic', inasmuch as it belongs anywhere (probably the bin) belongs in the Analytic philosophy article. I'll tidy up and move at some point. The real difficulty is in summarising all these points in a way that is balanced with the rest of the article. That is precisely why Wiki is v. good at small articles on matters of detail, but awful at handling very general articles. But we are equal to all of this, are we not. edward (buckner) 19:12, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
Agree that the structure is odd. Why should existentialism not be under ethics, for example? I am very open-minded as to where the stuff ends up; just thought I'd throw it at the wall while I had the chance. I do owe sources on the existentialism bit, but won't get around to that until next week. Shouldn't be difficult. KD Tries Again 21:20, 21 February 2007 (UTC)KD
Of the (famous) 20th century existentialists, only Simone de Beauvoir attempted at all to derive an existentialist ethics, i.e. The Second Sex and The Ethics of Ambiguity, yet they were also classic feminist texts, as well. Existentialism, esp. Sartrean version, as a whole is deeply metaphysical (existence precedes essence, bad faith, etc.), as well as epistemological when discussing Christian Existentialism. Poor Yorick 23:53, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
I guess it's not a big deal, as the question is where the write-up should go, but I thought Sartre and Camus said quite a bit about 'how to live' - to put it crudely. Camus is pretty thin on epistemology.KD Tries Again 16:16, 26 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Pragmatism

I can fiddle around with this next. I don't think it needs "American" in the title. The current version is quite neatly written in comparison with some material, but I think it's actually subtly wrong. It implies that, for the pragmatists, the success of a theory and the theory's fit with reality are two different things. I don't believe that's the case, for Peirce or James at least. They weren't closet correspondence theorists. But I'd better find some cites.KD Tries Again 21:27, 21 February 2007 (UTC)KD

A modest proposal

I think the format: "main article: rubber duckies" right after the section title works better than the format: "See rubber duckies for more information about this subject." as the final sentence. Rick Norwood 22:32, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

You had me very confused for a moment. Yes, agree. edward (buckner) 08:05, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Re; Kebra Negast

I removed the sentence that claims this is a work of philosophical & religious importance. Perhaps it is in Rastifarian circles, but from my research in Ethiopian subjects for Wikipedia (& having slogged thru this difficult work), it has no special religious or philosophical importance. It is an essay that justifies the claim of the Solomonic dynasty to the throne of Ethiopia, & from the comments of a few Ethiopians on Wikipedia I understand this work lacks even notable religious value (I'd say about the level of St. Augustine's The City of God might for the average Catholic); it has a unique historical & cultural value -- but nothing more.

However, I expect some Rastifarians to insist on restoring this edit. I would expect that they provide verifiable cites for their claims of its philosophical importance -- but I doubt it. I made a serious effort to find any secondary literature on this work, & it was slim pickings: I could find less than a half-dozen published works on the Kebra Negast. -- llywrch 00:25, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Philosophy and Science

" It is a commonplace view that once a branch of philosophy fully starts following the norms of science (i.e., use of the scientific method), it is no longer termed "philosophy", but "science". [citation needed]"

One possible citation for this is in the introduction to The Dream of Reason. I might do it myself later, but I don't have time at the moment. -- Calion | Talk 19:11, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Radical changes

I've renamed the section on Idealism, Rationalism &c and brought it up the page. I've mostly added. Beefed up the section on rationalism, including Parmenides and Plato. A new section on nominalism and realism which are strangely not mentioned anywhere else. A paragraph on Berkeley, who is now recognised as the originator of Idealism. A whole section on Hume, in the section on scepticism. This section is now much too long, and needs judicious pruning. edward (buckner) 22:13, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for that. Three comments. a) The paragraph on Hume would be best framed as a discussion of external-world skepticism. b) Also, I'm not confident that the list-of-three is giving us paradigmatically skeptical arguments; maybe it would fit more comfortably in the Empiricism section. c) The sentence "Fortunately, though reason is incapable of dispelling the clouds, a few hours of company and a good game of backgammon make his sceptical conclusions seem ridiculous." is witty, which makes it probable that it won't last another hour on Wikipedia. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 03:07, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
The whole paragraph needs soem work - the list of three, as you spotted, belongs in the empiricism section, but I put it in late at night. The backgammon part is more or less directly from Hume himself. As you say, it is probably best removed. edward (buckner) 08:07, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
OK I've moved the 'three problems' bit to the rationalist subsection, though it still looks a bit awkward. and I trimmed down scepticism. I removed the bit about induction scepticism, because that is covered by the but on Hume, and moved a paragraph that clearly refers to modern replies, to the end. I was going to remove the backgammon bit, but then lost heart. edward (buckner) 08:34, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
Re: skepticism pruning: good stuff, I think I was overzealous with the writing. Perhaps some quick rejoinders to skepticism might be in order: I'm thinking esp. contextualism, which is (to my mind) the most interesting and plausible response to the skeptic's challenges.
Somebody will (justifiably) remove the backgammon sentence eventually or clock it with a "sounds unencyclopedic" tag, but I will do nothing since I try to err on the side of funny. An actual quote from Hume, though, would be more likely to last. I'll check the Enquiry. { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 04:56, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
This is a fairly good quote (once we trim it): "And though a Pyrrhonian may throw himself or others into a momentary amazement and confusion by his profound reasonings; the first and most trivial event in life will put to flight all his doubts and scruples, and leave him the same, in every point of action and speculation, with the philosophers of every other sect, or with those who never concerned themselves in any philosophical researches. When he awakes from his dream, he will be the first to join in the laugh against himself, and to confess, that all his objections are mere amusement" (the Enquiry, SXII, Part 2) { Ben S. Nelson } Lucidish 05:11, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
It's a good quote, but it's too long. I think I'll just remove the backgammon thing as it does not fit anyway. If you keep the quote safe, we can put it should into the scepticism article, where it belongs. edward (buckner) 08:23, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
OK I've solved this by summarising Hume's position, then adding a footnote to the quote, and even found a page reference to the 1777 edition! edward (buckner) 08:37, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
Idealism: Should Kant be in this section? He is unlike Berkeley and the other Germans in that he didn't believe the first sentence of the section. He certainly believed that what was real exceeded "mind". But then, if we go back to a "From Kant to Idealism" structure - which would be easier - then the Berkeley material would be out of place. Aside from this question (to which I don't have a ready answer), I'd suggest that the move from Kant's view to Idealism began with Fichte and Schelling. They both lopped off the noumenal, and Hegel followed in their shoes. I could re-jig that bit (although it doesn't help with my first point).KD Tries Again 17:14, 26 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Branches of philosophy

I've completely rewritten the section on branches, and boldly removed the clean-up tags. I haven't put too many references in, on the assumption that everything I have said is incredibly verifiable, but feel free to challenge it, or to add references. edward (buckner) 09:20, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

PS I haven't removed the top cleanup tag as there is plenty more to do on this. I have already mentioned the 'Identity of philosophy' section which I do think needs a little challenge here and there. It seems a little disconnected and fragmented. If I were trying to summarise what it says, what would that be? Also, some of the references do not support what is there. For example, the citation of Ducasse (an essay, rather dated,that I read with interest) does not obviously connect with anything in that section. edward (buckner) 09:23, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

You are probably in a better position to add references than anybody else. If you use the inline format <ref> A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh, Saunders, 1932, ISBN 1234567890 </ref> it is very quick and easy. As it says somewhere in Wikipedia, if something is incredibly verifiable, then it should be easy to add a reference. Rick Norwood 13:41, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

edward (buckner) edit

I've enjoyed reading your edit, and agree with the removal of some of the flags.

I note that Aristotle contradicts himself (do I contradict myself, very well, I contain multitudes) in saying that metaphysics is primary and precedes all other investigation, and then saying that logic precedes all philosophy. Poor Aristotle. So much to write, so little time. He always begins well, and then he keeps breaking off -- like Galois the night before his duel -- saying in effect, no time, no time.

In your references, a publisher and an ISBN would be helpful. You can find them on amazon if you don't have the book handy.

Rick Norwood 13:49, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

All in good time. edward (buckner) 16:24, 24 February 2007 (UTC)


Concerning "concerns itself"

It is a telling failing of this entry that it begins with the line, "Philosophy concerns itself with..." Should the entry not begin by indicating something about what philosophy is before proceeding to the question of what it concerns itself with? I might concern myself with the very same things that philosophy does, but that does not mean I am philosophy. I am I, but what is philosophy? FNMF 15:50, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

That is quite correct, and I agree with you. But that was the version arrived at by consensus. edward (buckner) 17:00, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

The opening I argued for was this:

(literally 'love of wisdom') is an academic discipline whose subject matter is the most fundamental and general concepts and principles involved in thought, action and reality, whose goal is to discover the absolutely fundamental reason of everything it investigates, and whose method is rational enquiry.

which does say what philosophy is.

I like saying what it is and also like the 'academic discipline' part. After that I prefer the ethics/metaphysics etc./logic description, more-or-less as is. I don't think breaking knowledge and reality theory into ever more fine distinctions (as with adding ontology) is useful in the first paragraph. JJL 18:43, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
I also support re-inserting the "academic discipline..." bit. (But doubtless that is just an Aristotelian hankering for a genus on my part.) However, I can see how this might have generated fruitless controversy ("how dare you imply that only professors can be philosophers", etc.). 271828182 19:59, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't doubt it was arrived at by consensus, but in that case the consensus was to avoid the question of what philosophy is. Which is why, if it is a failing, it is telling. I don't claim to know what philosophy is, but if those intending to author an entry on philosophy lack confidence about this question, what does it suggest? The difficulty is obviously the disparate nature of what has been called philosophy—can this diversity find unity under a single definition? Thus, for instance, if philosophy is called an academic discipline, is Socrates then a philosopher or not? He had his own disciples, perhaps, and he practiced his own form of discipline, but is it not stretching things to suggest he had (or belonged to) an academy? Which then raises the possibility: could defining philosophy as an academic discipline mean defining what philosophy is but not what philosophy was? Perhaps it can only be defined as something like the name given to a diverse set of writings and teachings concerned with problems such as what is truth, how to live, what exists, how we can know, etc. Such a definition might not add that much in terms of substantive content, but at least it does not obviously evade the encyclopaedic responsibility to define the thing under consideration. Philosophy may be elusive, but it is surely not impossible to find a form of words which give it a general characterisation. FNMF 21:31, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Welcome to the Philosophy page, FNMF. You don't know what a bag of worms you are suggesting we reopen. After months -- months! -- of reverts and rereverts of the introduction, we are finally making some progress on the article itself. This is not the time to revisit the introduction. Come back in a year, when the body of the article is in better shape. Rick Norwood 22:34, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Rick, no doubt you wish to improve the body of the article, but your suggestion that I "come back in a year" seems to be continuing the evasion manifest in the opening line (and it also seems to indicate that your "welcoming" me to the philosophy page is somewhat disingenuous, but that's by the by). However fraught the editing of this entry has been, I don't believe the problem of the opening is unsolvable, and make a suggestion about the way to go in the above. To simply refuse the attempt seems unwise and unnecessary. FNMF 22:49, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
FNMF, you say "if those intending to author an entry on philosophy lack confidence about this question, what does it suggest". No one here lacks confidence. Those who have an academic background in philosophy are all very confident about the definition of philosophy. But there are a number of editors here with little or no academic background, and they are also very confident about the definition. But unfortunately these two groups do not agree (the non-academics do not like 'academic discipline', e.g.). So it's not lack of confidence. On the contrary, there are two sets of opposed and quite entrenched views that we had to accommodate in the opening. As Rick says, it took months (if not years). Remember, this is Wiki: every editor has an equal right to edit the article, and to have a view on it. All views are the same, and academic credentials count for nothing. So, unless you have a form of words to put forward, I suggest it is left as it is. edward (buckner) 08:28, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Edward, I absolutely understand what you are saying, that if anything it is over-confidence combined with under-qualification (not necessarily in a credentialist sense) that causes problems. I don't doubt it for a second. Even so, to have an opening that simply reads "Philosophy concerns itself..." as a default/consensus position is a display of collective lack of confidence, insofar as it is a default position. That said, I note that the opening has been changed, precisely in order to address the problem I pointed out—it now at least attempts to say what philosophy is: an academic discipline. Now that said, I cannot help but notice that my comments have attracted a number of responses, not one of which addresses the substance of my comments. I further point out that I did suggest a form of words, not necessarily a final form, but a form for discussion (see the text in bold above), but that this form of words has not been discussed. Nor has there been any discussion of the remarks I made about whether it is a good idea to define philosophy as an academic discipline (see the above remarks on Socrates). Perhaps my remarks were unworthy of response, but I am not convinced that is the reason they have received none. FNMF 10:44, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Ah yes I see it has been changed. Well, obviously I agree with the change, but of course that is the equivalent of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand being assassinated or whatever, setting off a huge edit war of immense proportions, the lights of Europe going off one by one &c. Let's see what happens. edward (buckner) 11:30, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Syllogism: Philosophy is an academic discipline. Socrates was not an academic. Therefore Socrates was not a philosopher. Are we happy with this? FNMF 12:31, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Invalid. You have mixed tenses. If Socrate IS not a philosopher, or if philosophy WAS an academic discipline (at the same time Socrates WAS a philosopher) then it is of course valid. edward (buckner) 14:10, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I am unsure of your point here. Are you conceding that philosophy is an academic discipline but that philosophy used to be something other than an academic discipline? That seems to be what you are saying. If so, then to begin an entry on philosophy with the words "Philosophy is an academic discipline..." seems to be very partial at best, ignoring what philosophy was. This, of course, was my point: what does the word philosophy mean such that it can cover both what you are saying philosophy is and what philosophy was, if these two are different? How is it possible to be happy with an opening definition that appears to exclude Socrates from being a philosopher? The point here seems fairly basic, and I am truly surprised that none of these points has been addressed. On top of which, I note that the entry is back to beginning with: "Philosophy concerns itself with..." This is clearly inadequate, for the reasons I indicated in the above comments, and I reiterate the form of words I proposed for discussion: Philosophy is the name given to a diverse set of writings and teachings concerned with problems such as... FNMF 16:39, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Well, the point was simply that the syllogism was invalid. But of course I concede that philosophy was not always an academic discipline, though it was always, I think, a discipline. Can I be happy that it means something different now that it used to a long time ago? (And I mean a long time ago – Plato and Aristotle made it into an academic discipline, and nearly all philosophers after that worked within some sort of academic framework. Notable exceptions were Hume and Spinoza of course, but because they weren't academics for most of their lives does not mean they were not pursuing an academic discipline). Yes. It's the discipline that is academic, not the people who employ it. I don't like 'Philosophy is the name given to a diverse set of writings and teachings ...' because philosophy is not just a set of writings and teachings. It's a technique that must be learned, a method. It is not a set of claims or propositions (as 'teachings' suggests). It is not just 'writings', though it has that meaning. In short, the opening does not exclude Socrates being a philosopher (or Hume or anyone else who practised outside an academy). And the alternative suggestion is not accurate, indeed is misleading. edward (buckner) 17:20, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Well for the record I think you are wrong to speak as though the fact that Socrates lived "a long time ago" made a difference to the question of defining philosophy. And I think your argument defending "academic" is in general tortured. Academic means an academy. Other examples could be cited. Nietzsche, for instance, for whom becoming a philosopher meant withdrawing from the academy (and who, by the way, is utterly neglected in the entry, as are others, despite his and their importance). Nor do I agree that the word "teachings" suggests "a set of claims" rather than a technique or a method: techniques are taught. Nor did my proposal state that philosophy was "just writings." But for all that, beginning with "Philosophy is a discipline that..." is at least acceptable. I do think you are overly concerned with "saving" the technical or methodical aspect of the definition from the threats of wishy-washy "diversity," and that this tends to diminish another important aspect, which is this: philosophy may be a technique, yet it is not one technique, but rather a constantly transforming technique, even the technique of transforming technique. But that is a question not worth getting into here. Your newest version is certainly an improvement, and should be preserved in favour of the alternatives. FNMF 18:13, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I thought it might be obliquely helpful to see how equivalent Wiki articles begin. Physics, biology, botany are defined along the lines of:
"is the science of"
"is the study of"
"is the scientific study of"
Psychology and sociology are both:
"the academic and applied discipline of"
Theology, startlingly, is:
"reasoned discourse about".
We should be able to do better than just "Philosophy is the discipline...", I agree. But it can't be defined as "academic", "academic and applied" is not quite right. I also don't like the "body of teachings and writings" - as I've said before, it needs to be distinguished in some way from literature, poetry, yoga, Zen, etc. As a purely strategic matter, I'd prefer to keep working on the body of the article. It's nothing to do with confidence: any one of us can go and find a serviceable version of a definition without much trouble. It's just a recognition that achieving consensus on any one substantive definition has in the past proved impossible. KD Tries Again 20:16, 28 February 2007 (UTC)KD
Surely it's academic. Somewhere an unemployed person is trying to create nuclear fusion in his bathtub, but that doesn't change what physics is. Although phil. can be applied (e.g., bioethics), it's a study conducted in an academic manner even if it is being done by a non-academic. JJL 01:15, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes I agree. 'Academic' strictly means an institution, but has a wider sense that implies scholarly standards. Indeed 'scholar' and 'scholarly' use to have that exact meaning before the rise of the modern universities: careful research, citation, a certain dry style, general care and attention. One can be academic or scholarly without working from within an institution. The contrast that needs to be drawn here is between philosophy as it is popularly conceived ("my philosophy of life ...") and the sort of philosophy that is taught and studied in institutions, but was once carried on outside them (Hume, Nietszche &c). edward (buckner) 16:04, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
In relation to the above two remarks: (1) philosophy and physics are very different, and to treat them as analogous is false (an "unemployed person" is certainly potentially capable of doing philosophy—Socrates for example); (2) the word "academic" and the word "scholarly" do not mean quite the same thing, and if by academic one means scholarly then why not just define it as a scholarly discipline?; (3) just as "academic" implies an academy, "scholarly" implies a school (in some sense at least); (4) it is a fudge to say "is taught and studied in institutions, but was once carried on outside them"—clearly the institutional aspect is not essential to the definition in that case; (5) it is fine to want to indicate a contrast in order to preserve what you understand "real" philosophy to be, but one must not do that in a way that then excludes "real" philosophy from the definition. I note again that there has not even been one attempt to address this question, which I raised via the example of Socrates. Not only did Socrates not have an academy, nor a school, nor an institution, but philosophy was defined (for him as for other Greek philosophers) by opposition to the Sophists, who precisely did have schools, academies, and institutions. The objection was to the instrumentalisation of the use of wisdom, logos, etc, the rigidification of content and the fact that a comfortable living was being made from their positions (and thus this is a "philosophical" critique potentially applicable to today's academic philosophers). However much one might wish to protect the definition of philosophy from contamination by pseudo-philosophy, the fact is one must have a definition open enough to be capable of application to all "real" philosophers: to Socrates, Anaximander, Augustine, Nietzsche, Cioran, Quine, Heidegger and Deleuze, because whichever of these one personally feels may or may not be a philosopher, an encyclopaedia is not the place to exclude any of these from the definition. The wish to protect today's academic philosophers from this contamination is obscuring sight of what direction the opening must go in, if it is to be generally legitimate. (6) More generally: academic, scholarly, discipline, technique—each of these words is different. They should not be conflated, and if one or other of them is thought to be pertinent to the opening line, it needs to be justifed. I think some of these words are relevant, but saying that philosophy is a matter of technique, or a discipline, is not the same thing as saying it is academic, nor that it is scholarly. (7) Re scholarly, for instance: I do not know whether Nietzsche's style can be described as dry, nor did he feel compelled to cite his sources. No doubt he had discipline, no doubt he had a kind of technique, but most of his writing could hardly be called "academic" in style or content, nor even "scholarly," at least according to the criteria suggested above. Yet it would obviously be wrong to deny him the status of philosopher.FNMF 21:31, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Pragmatism - February 27 revision

I have corrected the section without lengthening it, and provided some sources. I removed the claim that Bergson and Moore shared fundamental assumptions with the pragmatists, as at best controversial, at worst wrong, unsourced, and if right not notable. Cheers. KD Tries Again 20:34, 27 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Thanks KD! edward (buckner) 08:31, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Historical section

This needs work, obviously. That includes work on the sub-articles, of course. I have done Medieval philosophy. I'm also happy to take on Ancient Philosophy (and tidying up the pre-socratics article). That leaves early modern philosophy, and whatever comes after.

Does anyone have expertise in Early Modern?

On what comes after, there are two 'odd ones' in the 'ism' section, namely Phenomenology, and the Analytic tradition. I suggest these really belong in the historical section on twentieth century and contemporary philosophy. Any thoughts? edward (buckner) 08:34, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Kant & Idealism

I've just noticed the question about whether Kant should be in the section on Idealism, given he didn't believe in the opening sentence of the section. Is there any way of rewording the sentence so it would include Kant? Presumably if there is subjective I., transcendental I, absolute I., there must be something they have in common? edward (buckner) 11:37, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

I'll think about it some more, as I raised it. For me, German idealism starts after Kant, when Fichte and Schelling get rid of the noumenal.KD Tries Again 20:03, 28 February 2007 (UTC)KD

Ontology

There's a bit of toing and froing in the introduction. 'Ontology' is just another name for 'metaphysics' that was introduced later on (17C I think). So no point in adding 'ontology'. edward (buckner) 17:26, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

I've made some small changes. Added 'discipline' but not 'academic', and changed the defintion of metaphysics. It is concerned not so much with what really exists as with what ultimately can be said to exist. edward (buckner) 17:34, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
This is a somewhat fine distinction for the first paragraph--I might say, lose the ultimately and make these points later in the article (e.g. "Main Branches of Philosophy"). JJL 01:18, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
(To JJL). First point, 'ultimately' replaced 'really', so no increase in word count (though a small increase in number of letters). Second point, this is not a fine distinction at all. Metaphysics is not concerned with what things exist in the sense that a physicist is concerned with how many sorts of particles there are, or butterfly or stamp collectors. 'Ultimately' is key. Obviously nerve fibres exist, and minds exist. But, ultimately, is there just nerve fibres, or are there minds also? That's v. important, so I recommend we don't lose it. edward (buckner) 10:47, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Ah, Edward. Many of us do in fact make a distinction between the two terms. Here is all that OED has, in its definition of ontology:
The science or study of being; that department of metaphysics which relates to the being or essence of things, or to being in the abstract.
I think it should say more than this (to accommodate such usages as "a lean ontology of propositions and truth values", in which the word is extended to cover an inventory of types of existents proposed by work in ontology). But OED does give the primary meaning, which is the one accorded to it by the majority of contemporary philosophers when they are being circumspect. It is an etymologically supportable usage, for what that is worth. I think the article should respect the difference between ontology and the broader term metaphysics. –Noetica 01:23, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I think this should be mentioned, but not in the introduction. We are trying to be lean here, and I support JJL in that. edward (buckner) 10:48, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Fine, Edward. If we are not to go into detailed distinctions among terms in the introduction, then we should simply not mention ontology at all in the introduction. Plainly the term is not straightforwardly equivalent to metaphysics, so let's not simply for the sake of brevity say that it is. I note that as things stand ontology is not mentioned anywhere except in the introduction, by the way.
Overall, I like things as they are now: this key term is not in the lead, but it is correctly glossed in the introduction, with a link to Ontology – an article that is itself at least quite serviceable. Anyone reading the present article as it now stands would get no false impression regarding ontology, and would have a way of taking things further. That's not bad! –Noetica 11:15, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I see you have mentioned it in the branches section. That's exactly the right place. However, the article itself is not in very good shape, in my view! edward (buckner) 12:46, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't want to bog us down with definitions, but notable philosophers would define 'ontology' as the study of what it means to exist, rather than the study of what does exist, no matter how general. Also, I wasn't sure what "precise natures" meant in this contex; I've adjusted it, hopefully for the better.KD Tries Again 16:40, 1 March 2007 (UTC)KD
I can't resist this quote from Isaac Watts' Logick (1725). "Ontology … is what was wont to be called the first part of metaphysics in the Peripatetick schools. It treats of Being, its most general nature, and of all its Affections and Relations. I confess the old popish Schoolmen have mingled a Number of useless subtilties with this Science, and exhausted their own Spirits, and the Spirits of their Readers in many laborious and intricate Trifles … Upon this Account many of the Moderns have most unjustly abandoned the whole Science at once, and thrown abundance of Contempt and Raillery upon the very Name of Metaphysics; but this Contempt and Censure is very unreasonable, for this Science separated from some Aristotelian Fooleries and Scholastic Subtilities is so necessary to a distinct Conception, solid Judgment, and just Reasoning on many Subjects, that sometimes it is introduced as a Part of Logic, and not without Reason". edward (buckner) 19:10, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Edward:
O sorry, of course you're right. I did that in the branches section, which I mistakenly but not wholly inaccurately characterised as an introduction. You say that Ontology is not in good shape? Well, it is still the natural link to make, isn't it? It is not in bad shape; I stick with my earlier assessment of it as "at least quite serviceable". Finally, nice quote from Isaac Watts! I love to see such things turning up. Here's one that I found, and have used:
Metaphysics not only succeeded physics and mythology in the manner observed, and became as great a fund of superstition, but they were carried still farther, and corrupted all knowledge, as well as retarded the progress of it. Metaphysicians have not been quite agreed about the nature and object of their supposed science. Those we have last mentioned may be called and distinguished by the title, if they like it, of pneumatic philosophers, since their object is spirit and spiritual substance; how ridiculous soever it be to imagine spirit less an object of natural philosophy than body. (Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke; 1754)
KD:
I have no problem with your changes to my initial gloss on ontology. There are many ways to say what needs to be said, and several different possible emphases. We are in accord with OED, the Oxford Companion, and the Routledge Encyclopedia. A useful quick check, yes? Incidentally, though, I intended precise natures to pick out detailed features of entities that go beyond the essential natures that would need to be specified in setting out the broad categories of existence that ontology is concerned with. –Noetica 23:33, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Interested that the Bolingbroke quote appears to defend a form of Naturalism. I did some Googling and found that he was indeed an early defender of this view. Yet he is not mentioned in any of the Wiki articles that I could find. edward (buckner) 13:10, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Plato vs Aristotle

I would like to make the argument that this article is not worth the electricity it takes to generate it on a computer screen if you writers do not add a section viewing western philosophy as the continuing battle between the ideas of Plato and Aristotle. For more indepth view of this battle please read this article written in the 19th centruy by Heinrich Heine http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/heine-spinoza1.html

in philosophy, mathematics, physics, metaphysics, you always come back to Plato's ideals versus Aristotle's sophistry and materialism. Think of Leibniz vs Newton/Kant/emiricists think of Bertrand Russel vs Godel/Cantor et al. think of any great battle in the history of thought and I garuntee that the alignments of both sides will obviously attract to either Plato of Aristotle's view of the world.

There have certainly been notable philosophers who shared your view, but I think that view should be defended in a specialized book rather than in an encyclopedia article, which needs to present many views in a relatively brief space. Rick Norwood 13:36, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I second that. This article needs to present many views in a short space. Moreover this opposition between extreme realism (Plato) and moderate Realism (Aristotle) is already implicit in this article. I should certainly be discussed explicitly in the Medieval philosophy article, which is work in progress. edward (buckner) 14:57, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Maverick philosopher on Wikipedia

The Maverick Philosopher has an interesting thread on philosophy on the Wiki here. Someone has pointed out the the Faith and reason article is in a terrible way. True enough. edward (buckner) 08:53, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

I've taken a shot at Faith and Rationality. I've done something about the spelling, and the worst logical errors. It still needs a lot of work; it's repetitious and unreferenced. Also, the title should be changed to Faith and Reason. Rick Norwood 23:28, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Maverick again

The Maverick has taken another potshot. This time at the awful definitions of philosophy. Why is that link there anyway? It's just a selection of arbitrary quotations which, as Maverick points out, have been taken entirely out of context.

I have done some minor editing on the 'Identity' section, including taking the link out, but this whole section needs thinking through. First step: summarise in a single sentence what the section is saying. edward (buckner) 10:34, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
I wish he'd rewrite the Heidegger article. I think that's his specialty.KD Tries Again 22:23, 5 March 2007 (UTC)KD

Raciovitalismo - proposal to remove

Not sufficiently notable to warrant its own section in this article. I am sure Wiki has an article about Ortega y Gasset where the material might be better placed (in fact, it duplicates what's in that article, but is also an expansion!). In case it isn't obvious, the implication of retaining this section would be that the article needs a section of equivalent length on each and every philosopher as notable as Ortega. Not feasible.KD Tries Again 22:27, 5 March 2007 (UTC)KD

Yes, definitely remove it. It strikes me as a vanity piece. JJL 23:42, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree. Nothing against Ortega y Gasset, but considering the large number of philosophers of greater notability who go unmentioned by this article, this entire section should be stricken. 271828182 01:06, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Agree. Didn't even realise it was there. Only one thing, try not to remove from Wiki any well-written and researched material (I can't make that judgment here). There is an article on Ortega y Gasset, which has less material on that subject than is here. Would it make sense to move some or all of it there? edward (buckner) 12:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
One paragraph is taken from the Ortega article. Correction, it's all taken from the existing Wiki Ortega article (or maybe someone moved it there already?). I'll remove it from this article. KD Tries Again 19:39, 6 March 2007 (UTC)KD